In the Bag: Charlotte Forsyth

Words by Yu Mei
Photos supplied

Charlotte carries her Keriana Clutch in Brun Suede with contrasting strap.

Charlotte Forsyth knows how to handle an unexpected twist, whether it’s the nature of independent business, a Balenciaga mule on a classic wardrobe, or of the cocktail variety. Read on to hear the HANDS London co-founder’s inspiration and daily routine.


I am a photographer, creative, and co-founder of HANDS London, a food collective creating unique events. We specialise in designing food installations which look and taste spectacular; sculptures of pearls and apricots, silver trays of deviled eggs, and mountains of whipped butter have all made an appearance at some of our recent soirées.

I am driven by wanting a different and varied life, and to build a future myself rather than following a standard path. My career has not unfolded how I expected it to… nothing in a creative freelance career or independent business is easy to predict. It has been full of twists and turns! The speed of the evolution of HANDS has been wonderfully surprising—we started as a private supper club during a lockdown, which we then started sharing online where it immediately took off. When people responded to our approach to food and design, it was truly a special feeling.

Throughout my career, the most valuable lesson I have learnt is to not do something for the money. Do it because you love it. If you are passionate about what you do, people will respond.

HANDS London has designed and catered events for the likes of Salvatore Ferragamo, HURS, and Mejuri. Charlotte and her co-founder, Sofie Thompson, do not shy away from a deconstructed tablescape and a generous portion of whipped butter.


I start my morning routine with a coffee in bed with my husband and a crossword. I’m a morning person and an early riser, so I enjoy that first hour of the day when it’s just my husband and me, slowly getting ready to start the day. Then I will try to fit in some exercise.

My typical day is always changing depending on what I’m working on. If we have a HANDS event, I could be rushing around doing pre-event errands, otherwise I could be creating imagery or film for a brand I am working with. Juggling various projects can run you the risk of getting burnt out, but I’m good at noticing the signs and clearing my diary to reset when I need to.


I love classic pieces and a neutral colour palette of blacks, greys, browns and creams; sometimes with a pop of colour. I look for well-made pieces and prefer to invest carefully rather than buy lots. I am obsessed with wool trousers, cashmere jumpers, and coats, and often wear something quite tonal paired with a fabulous pair of shoes—like a silver pointed Balenciaga mule or sparkly flats by Christopher Esber. Of course, handbags are also very important!

My most precious items are my Issey Miyake pieces (which I have been collecting for many years), as well as my books and my cameras. They are all special pieces of my life and give me so much joy. And my bed, which is a beautiful Japanese futon bed and my favourite piece of furniture I own.

I am inspired by Issey Miyake, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sarah Lucas, and Brian Eno (they’d make a great dinner party guestlist!). And the writers Olivia Laing and James Baldwin. Baldwin’s writing was very important to me growing up.


I am extremely on top of planning my calendar as there is always so much that I want to see and do. I can be less organised when I’m not as interested in something, but overall, I’m generally pretty good as I hate feeling out of control day-to-day.

The other day my friend said to me, “You’re the person I know that I can ask for anything and you’ll have it in your handbag.” I like to feel ready for different eventualities when I leave the house. I’ll always have sun cream in the summer and hand cream in the winter. My handbags may have a bit of a rough ride because I tend to stuff too much in them, but they are my little support system that takes me through the day. I fill them with my essentials: lip balm, makeup bag, camera, film, and always a book.

I use my Yu Mei Teresa Tote when I am going from a workout to meetings, and then to dinner. I love how it holds everything and still looks chic. My red Prada bag is another favourite for a day out.

When travelling, I plan everything weeks beforehand. I write a note of my outfits and plan an itinerary. Trips can be quite a lot of work, but they can be perfected with a little prep. Don’t get me wrong, there should be room for spontaneity, but often the most fun spontaneous evenings have happened because I’ve started in the right place!


The advice I would like to pass on is something my dad would say to us as kids: that you are no better and no worse than anyone else. Respect and be kind to everyone, and never see yourself as less than.

To create the perfect dinner party you need great food and wine, but most essentially, good company! I always curate dinner parties around the guests; the atmosphere, the food, and the wine are created and chosen with them in mind.

My favourite store is the books and magazine shop, Shreeji News, in Marylebone, London.

My life hack or tip is simply to plan. Have a planning evening every two weeks and life becomes more relaxed, easier and smoother!

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