Calgary Avansino on wellness and wisdom…
‘It’s a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together,’ as the quote goes and Calgary Avansino has succeeded in doing just that.
The gorgeous Californian worked her way up the ranks of British Vogue for almost a decade before launching her own website and becoming a Contributing Editor – sharing her passion for wellness – healthy living, positive thinking, green juicing – all with an intention to ‘Keep It Real’, the title of her first book, published last year.
At first glance, Avansino’s glossy magazine career could be considered at odds with her lifelong dedication to sustainable, responsible health and wellbeing. And yet this is what we need more regularly – a fashion figure that promotes self-care and healthy habits rather than quick fixes for short fashion gains. Calgary inspires us to ‘live a beautiful life’ on the inside as well as the outside; to think about longevity, and also to be in the moment.
Calgary also has an incredible eye for interior design and decoration – her London home we featured here as a stunning case in point, an expression of her innate optimism and affinity to colour and print throughout her lifestyle.
After 16 years living in London, the Californian sun has beckoned Calgary home. But first, a family travel adventure to embrace a slower pace, visiting Australia and Asia before making their way back to the US. We interviewed the impressive mother of three while she was in Sydney (in the exquisite paradise of Camp Cove) and discussed fashion, fitness, interiors and everyday inspiration…
How long have you lived in London?
We lived in London for 16 wonderful years and will forever miss the buzz of the city, but California was calling….
What were your positions at British Vogue?
I started as an intern and got a role soon after as personal assistant to the editor-in-chief, Alexandra Shulman. From there I became a beauty assistant, then wellbeing editor. After this, I leaped over to the fashion team and took on the role of executive fashion editor, then executive fashion director and finally executive fashion and digital project director. I am now a contributing editor.
How do you feel about returning to California?
Being away from family for so long has been difficult so I’m excited to have regular access to those I love most, and my children are over the moon to be living near their cousins and grandparents. It’s such a luxury to go do a Soul Cycle class with my sister or have my parents over for an impromptu dinner and I vow never to take any of it for granted.
Has health and wellbeing always been important to you?
Absolutely, but in different ways throughout my life. It has always been “the way I live” but has sometimes taken a more conscious role than others. When I was a child, I absorbed how my parents lived and learned so much by osmosis about the power of fuel food and moving your body. I was always very athletic and participated in sport competitively so I naturally thought about what foods could give me the most energy and stamina. I am still learning and always will be but the essence of caring about my health and wellbeing will always be constant.
Sarah J Curtis Ukrainian Blouse from Pam Pam Swim.
You’ve travelled extensively – what are your favourite destinations?
Well Australia is definitely our favourite at the moment, undoubtedly. Living in London for so long we have been lucky enough to easily travel all over Europe. I’d say our favourite European destinations are Puglia, Venice, Paris, Amsterdam and Sicily. But when we are up to a longer flight, the Maldives is the most heavenly destination away from everything.
What have you loved about Australia?
The positive spirit, the magnificent scenery, and the friendly folk. It’s wonderful to explore a new place and fall in love with everything it has to offer – we really could have happily stayed another few months and still been excited every day about what was in store. Australia’s raw, natural energy is intoxicating and something we will remember forever.
What about the food and wellness scene here?
It’s incomparable and so exciting. I have eaten my way through Sydney and Bryon Bay, amazed at the quality and thoughtfulness of all food served. Restaurants here prove that healthy and delicious can go hand-in-hand seamlessly. I’ve gathered so many ideas and inspirations along the way that I can’t wait to try in my own kitchen.
Gül Hürgel Jumpsuit from Pam Pam Swim.
What’s your signature style?
My daughter would probably say it is “loud” but I think of it as “cheerful”.
Suitcase essentials for this trip?
Versatile pieces that I can wear as a cover-up or dress up for dinner; lots of colour and print so I don’t get bored; nothing tight – it’s too hot; and nothing that needs ironing or dry-cleaning.
Where do you draw your daily inspiration?
Life with three kids is busy-busy so my daily inspiration usually comes from a place of patience. I use techniques I have learned daily to stay present, balanced and patient when the waves of motherhood, work, and marriage roll through the day. That doesn’t mean I always succeed but I try…
Do you think style translates between fashion and interiors?
Absolutely, it’s sad if it doesn’t. Your home should be an extension of you and your style, just like your clothes. I often choose a fabric for a couch or a chair and think, “I wish I could make a dress out of that.” I am obsessed with upholstered prints and wallpapers and never seem to have enough walls and sofas to work with! When I put on an outfit I know instantly if it’s “me”. The same should apply with a room in your home – you should be able to sit comfortably and be a part of that space; it’s an extension of you.
What’s your preferred interiors style?
Warm, inviting and full of character. I’m not a ‘white wall’ kind of gal.
Dream interiors project?
Our new house in California…
What’s your day-to-day approach to wellness for you and your family?
I try to focus on the big picture and stick to the overall fundamentals about whole/real food, the importance of activity and an appreciation of foods, tastes, and ingredients. I try not to get wrapped up in the small details (especially the ones I can’t control) – if they have ice cream at 10 am at a play date, so be it. I don’t let it faze me. It’s all about moderation and not projecting stress and control onto your relationship with food. Understanding what real food is (and how delicious it is) is the long-term goal – that’s the important part!
When did you realise you wanted to write a book?
When enough people wanted to hear what I had to say, I guess.
Your favourite recipe from the book?
Hard to say just one but if you took a family vote it would probably be either my Blueberry Oatmeal Bake or Tofu Enchiladas.
What will you always find in your fridge?
A good selection of veggies (cucumbers, carrots, fennel, zucchini, beets, salad, green beans, and peppers – those are the staples). Plus eggs, tofu, tempeh, almond milk, and leftovers. Always, leftovers!
The best way to unwind…?
In the bath with Epsom salts, a good book and some incense burning… added bonus if there are no children knocking at the door!!
Blueberry And Coconut Oatmeal Bake
This tray-baked breakfast looks invitingly like a batch of flapjacks. You can either enjoy a square or slice plain, as you would a flapjack, or top it with unsweetened almond or coconut milk to make it more moist and gooey. I serve it for breakfast just as often as I serve it for an afternoon snack or post-dinner treat. This bake is a fabulous way of prepping a breakfast ahead – perhaps as part of your prep day – so that you can pull it out over several days. Keep it in the fridge and it will last 4–5 days.
185g jumbo oats (gluten-free if possible)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted, plus extra for the tin
2 tbsp desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium apple, grated
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 medium eggs, whisked
375ml almond or coconut milk (unsweetened; from a carton)
2 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter (unsweetened)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Line a shallow 20cm square baking tin or a 23cm round tin with baking parchment then lightly brush the paper with coconut oil. Mix together all of the ingredients until well combined. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 30 minutes or until the middle is firm.
Allow to cool in the tin. Once cooled, lift out the tin using the paper. Cut into portions and serve – you can either slice it like a pie or use cookie cutters to make fun shapes.
Recipe extracted from Keep It Real by Calgary Avansino, published on the 11th February 2016 by Yellow Kite, £25
Could you name a quote that sums up how you live your life?
There are so many I love and I have them posted all over my pinboard in front of my desk but I guess the most fundamental one is “work hard and be kind to people”
Best piece of advice you have been given?
When I worked in the beauty department of British Vogue my boss, Anna-Marie Solowij, taught me to always wait 20 minutes before responding to any email, text or phone call that upset me. It gives you time to think and avoid making rash responses you will regret.
What does living a beautiful life mean to you?
A beautiful life is a grateful life! Always learning new things, experiencing new places and being open to whatever life has in store for me next. I’ve learned you can’t have an agenda on this ride of life – goals and dreams are terrific but flexibility is key too.
What’s next for Calgary Avansino?
My newly designed website which is launching next week…
What are you currently…?
Coveting: Prada “Tevas”
Wanderlusting: Japan for a month
Reserving: a yoga retreat in Bali
Preparing: Fermented vegetables
Watching: Re-watching Cowspiracy
Listening: Gary Clark Jr
Reading: The Whole Child Brain by Daniel J Siegel & Tina Payne Bryson
Learning: About the history of Vietnam – we’re going there next
Giving: Cambodian Children’s Trust
Dreaming: of my new nephew due in May
Beauty is: acceptance and laughter