PEOPLE OF THE CITY: ANNA MURPHY

The Times’ fashion director shares her favourite Christmas traditions and memories

11 December, 2019

 

What epitomises Christmas in London for you?

Peace on earth of the most literal variety: I love the quiet when the city empties.

 

What’s your earliest Christmas memory?

The elaborately munched carrots that I would find on the morning of Christmas Day after I had left them out for the reindeer. My dad gave very good Rudolph.

 

What’s your best Christmas memory?

When I was tiny my parents asked someone in my grandparents’ Yorkshire village to dress up as Father Christmas for a big family evening. There were about a dozen people there. He handed out presents to each person, one by one. Nothing for me. Then he pulled something out of his sack for ‘the smallest person in the room’. Which was me. It was my favourite thing: honey. I was awestruck.

 

What smells and tastes do you associate with the festive period?

A log fire. Mulled wine. Clove oranges. Chocolate gingers. Chocolate anything, come to think of it.

 

Do you prefer Christmas pudding, Christmas cake or a chocolate yule log?

Pudding. In for a penny, in for a pound – if not several. Which is why I am going to say cake too.

 

What’s your Christmas gift-wrapping style?

Nothing fancy on the outside. Save that for what lies beneath.

 

Do you have any special, unique or unconventional Christmas traditions?

When my sister and I were children our mother would always buy a new ‘Christmas Eve book’ that she would read to us before bed.

 

Do you own a Christmas jumper?

Not in the novelty sense. Times fashion director in bad jumper = professional jeopardy. But I love gorgeous knits. I will definitely be wearing one over Christmas.

 

Tea or soap?

Both. But not at the same time.

 

What’s your favourite Christmas film?

It’s more of a New Year’s film than a Christmas one, in that that’s when our stars finally get their act together, but it has to be When Harry Met Sally.

 

Do you have a favourite Christmas song?

I have an album (remember those?) called Soul Christmas, which I love. Otis Redding’s take on White Christmas is pretty hard to beat.

 

What signifies the start of the festive season for you?

Managing to get myself and all my presents to my parents’ house without mishap. And breeeaaathe…

 

What do you think is the best way to help others at Christmas?

Helping others is for life, not just for Christmas. My mission: a smile a day. Spread the love. Even if it’s just by way of paying a compliment to someone who is wearing a fabulous outfit on the tube. It’s amazing to witness how that puts a spring in someone’s step.

 

Anna Murphy has been fashion director of The Times since 2015 and is the author of How Not to Wear Black