June 14, 2024

Fashion Design

Fashion Designs that Enlighten the Soul.

Fashion designer Anu Hinduja talks taste

7 min read

My personal style signifier is an oversized black leather jacket that is the star piece of my brand AN-Y1, which is inspired by Formula One. My sister Nandita, who is also a designer, and I launched the brand with a fashion show in Monaco during the Grand Prix in 2022. I used to wear a lot of aviator jackets back in the day, and I wanted to revive that in an F1-style. I wear it with denim, dresses and silk jumpsuits in all kinds of weather. It’s got a bit of character and stands out. The Gulf badges make it retro and fun, and the leather is super-soft. As Gulf Oil is owned by the Hinduja family – my husband is businessman Sanjay Hinduja – I thought I would incorporate the logo.

The last thing I bought and loved was a rose-gold and diamond Cartier Juste un Clou bangle. It’s pretty, feminine and the industrial nail helps keep me grounded. It feels so light: I sleep, swim and ski with it.

Hinduja’s dog Chino
Hinduja’s dog Chino © Poppy Thorpe

The place that means a lot to me is Udaipur, Rajasthan, where I got married; it’s like the Venice of India. I was raised in Mumbai but hadn’t been to the region until I went for a friend’s wedding in 2014 (I’ve lived in London for 32 years). I said to Sanjay, “We have to get married here.” You feel a lot of nice energy as there is water and beautiful architecture everywhere – it’s airy and authentic. We had 800 guests at our wedding and three parties with performances by Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Scherzinger. I wore beautiful Indian outfits by Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahiliani.

The best souvenir I’ve brought home is a model World Cup trophy. We went to Qatar and I got it for my youngest son, who is a football fanatic; he thinks it is a real one! We all go to Tottenham, which has the best stadium ever – the seats are heated, the food is good and it is so friendly. My eldest son is a Chelsea FC supporter, and I used to go to all the matches with him when he was growing up as well.

AN-Y1 leather Bomber jacket, £1,200, with a model World Cup she bought for her son
AN-Y1 leather Bomber jacket, £1,200, with a model World Cup she bought for her son © Poppy Thorpe
Hinduja’s favourite recent read
Hinduja’s favourite recent read © Poppy Thorpe

The best book I’ve read in the past year is Welcome to Paradise by Twinkle Khanna, which was gifted to me by my friend, the author. I’m also writing a book about Indian children moving abroad, about our culture, for two- to six-year-olds – it’s not that easy.

The podcast I’m listening to is Dua Lipa: At Your Service. She interviews super-interesting people like Tim Cook, the head of Apple; you learn a lot. 

Her style icons Cindy Crawford and Kaia Gerber
Her style icons Cindy Crawford and Kaia Gerber © Lionel Hahn

My style icons are Cindy Crawford and Kaia Gerber together; they are effortlessly chic and cool. I’m drawn to Cindy’s style in the 1990s – she rocked a leather jacket and jeans so well – and her daughter has the same vibe for today. 

Her Cartier Crash watch
Her Cartier Crash watch © Poppy Thorpe
Her Hermès slippers
Her Hermès slippers © Poppy Thorpe

The best gift I’ve given recently was a family trip to Courchevel, which was the first time my little son skied. I’m a good skier but now I tend to stick to blue and green runs – as you get older you think of the risks more. I’m also making a book of memories for my husband, who is turning 60 this year.

And the best gift I’ve received is the Cartier Crash watch my husband gave me nine years ago. I wear it every single day. It’s related to car racing; legend has it that the Crash came about when a client of Cartier brought his damaged watch into the London store after a car accident in 1967.

Hinduja at home in London
Hinduja at home in London © Poppy Thorpe

The last music I downloaded – or rather re-downloaded – was by Madonna; I went to her concert last October. I’ve also been listening to AP Dhillon, an Indo-Canadian rapper. There’s a docu-series about his life called First of a Kind.

A pair of her favourite Saint Laurent heels
A pair of her favourite Saint Laurent heels © Poppy Thorpe

I have a collection of handbags and shoes. Back in the olden days, I collected DVDs! I’ve been collecting shoes by Jimmy Choo and Louboutin since I was 20, but my new favourites are by Saint Laurent – the latest is a pair of burgundy patent stilettos with rectangular toes. By day, I’m more of a sneaker person: Prada Sport, Hermès and Golden Goose. 

In my fridge you’ll always find goat’s cheese and protein bread from Whole Foods – that’s my favourite snack. Also a lot of fruit, yoghurts, dark chocolate and little things for my son, who is obsessed with fruit and nuts – he is very healthy.

A look in her fridge
A look in her fridge © Poppy Thorpe
Hinduja looking over the London rooftops
Hinduja looking over the London rooftops © Poppy Thorpe

I’ve recently rediscovered London again. I used to have a boutique, Ananya, in Notting Hill from 2004 to 2013. The area was so different then; at the time it was quite untouched. The crowd was trendy and a lot of creative people – Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Madonna – would hang out there; most of them were my clients. I also went to Camden Market recently for the first time in a long time and thought it was amazing. Every day I find something new – it is the best city in the world.

Hinduja at home with her dog Chino
Hinduja at home with her dog Chino © Poppy Thorpe

The thing I couldn’t do without is my family – but also my lip balm! I have all kinds: Vaseline, anything new on the market. Most recently I’ve tried Hailey Bieber’s Rhode lip treatment – it’s extremely moisturising – and Piz Buin for skiing. Vaseline Lip Therapy, £2.45, boots.com. Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment, £16. Piz Buin Moisturising Sun Lipstick, £3.49, bodycareonline.co.uk

The indulgences I would never forgo are wine – an Italian red like Barolo or Sassicaia; and cheesecake, especially the baked type. I also love Sprüngli chocolate: the almonds dipped in dark chocolate and the gaufrettes remind me of my childhood.

Some of her favourite beauty products
Some of her favourite beauty products © Poppy Thorpe
Two of AN-Y1’s upcoming cashmere pieces
Two of AN-Y1’s upcoming cashmere pieces © Poppy Thorpe

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is the knitwear I’m road testing for AN-Y1 – cashmere with a sporty touch. We release products in drops and make small-batch runs, as I don’t want to create any waste.  

An object I would never part with is all of my skincare. I used to use a lot of designer products, but I had a patch of bad skin and now use simple brands such as Eucerin, which I get on Amazon. As you get older your skin changes: now I get pigmentation from the sun, which never happened when I was younger. I also swear by Natura Bissé eye cream, which I have been using for 15 years. Natura Bissé Diamond Extreme Eye, £214

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Jacob Hashimoto. I bought one of his works at Impeccable Imagination, my sister-in-law’s design firm in Dubai, and love the texture and colours. I like to buy things when I travel so they remind me of the place where I bought it. 

Chopard Casmir perfume – now discontinued, it remains Hinduja’s signature scent
Chopard Casmir perfume – now discontinued, it remains Hinduja’s signature scent © Poppy Thorpe
Eucerin is one of Hinduja’s essential skincare products
Eucerin is one of Hinduja’s essential skincare products © Poppy Thorpe

The beauty staple I’m never without is Chopard Casmir, which I have been wearing since I was 19. I have a big stock of it, which I buy on eBay. I’ve tried other scents, but I can’t match it. 

My favourite part of my house is the terrace, which has magnificent views over Big Ben, Westminster and the London Eye.

My beauty gurus are Fernanda Gonçalves, my facialist in Ebury Street; Neville in Belgravia for hair; and I see my hormone doctor, Dr Mantzourani, every six months for blood tests. I believe in health spas such as Hotel Palace Merano, Italy, for a reboot and a bit of downtime.

Hinduja on the roof of her home in London
Hinduja on the roof of her home in London © Poppy Thorpe

Some of my best ideas have come simply from walking and listening to podcasts or music. I got inspired to do AN-Y1 just from walking around in London and seeing people wearing Gulf T-Shirts. 

My favourite location is Mayfair as it is so villagey. I bump into so many people picking up a coffee from Carpo or Ole & Steen. Often I visit Farm Street Church on Mount Street to light a candle too.

In another life, I would have been a singer; I love to sing. I did karaoke in Miami at Casa Tua for my last birthday – I’m always in Miami for my birthday; we stay at The Setai in South Beach – and the next day I could not even speak. I like all the old songs: pure pop from George Michael, Abba and Madonna.

The best bit of advice I ever received was to take advice from your younger self. When you are young, you are carefree, so I ask myself, “What would I have done at 20?” We tend to get a little grumpy and complacent as we get older, so this “advice” keeps you young and happy.

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