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In Conversation With Rosemary Ferguson

As a new season begins, we sat down with model and nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson on the set of our spring-summer campaign, in which she is starring, to speak about the importance of community, her work as a nutritionist and her learnings from the challenges of the past year.

Rosemary, how do you find balance in your life?

Finding balance doesn’t always come easily to me, I have a tendency to be quite hyper. Keeping balance is even harder. I try to put structure into my day: things like exercise; breathing techniques—which admittedly I find hard to stick to—but they do really help me stay calm and grounded.

What was the catalyst that kick-started your career in nutrition?

The major catalyst was becoming a mum and having three kids to feed. Suddenly I was very aware of exactly what I was feeding them and it prompted me to go back to school to study nutrition—although my interest in it was there from a young age.

I come from a homeopathic and holistic background so I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of healing the body. Couple that with fashion and modelling—where you are always pulled into the discussion around food—and my interest was definitely cemented.

I think the fashion industry is broadly better than it gets credit for; even though the conversation is often about eating disorders, that was never my experience. It’s more that the fashion industry wants you to look and feel the best you can, so it has always been pretty ahead of the curve with developments in nutrition. I remember trying quinoa on a shoot in New York in the 90s years before anybody else used it.

How does your former career as a model influence your current one?

I still do model, every now and then I get sort of dusted off and wheeled out [laughs]. But what’s lovely about fashion and nutrition is that they are so involved with one another, and the fashion industry has always been so supportive [of my career in nutrition].

Looking great is much more than skin deep, if you want to look great you have to feel great. Understanding both sides of the coin is quite useful.
When I was a model I used to travel a lot, burn the candle at both ends, so that lived experience definitely comes into my work now too.

Your modelling career started in the 90s - what was your favourite thing about that decade?

I had a great time in the 90s. I suppose it was the music really but I loved it all. The collision of music, fashion and art at that time, without us even knowing it, was just so iconic and everybody was on the same page. I used to love going to raves, I was big into raving at that time.

It’s definitely one of the benefits of growing older, looking back and realising wow, what a special time that was…

I know, my kids are always saying, “I want to grow up in the 90s”, but I’m sure they’ll have their time too. But when you’re in it you don’t notice it but looking back you’re like: I’m really glad I was alive then.

Where do you call home these days?

I live in Gloucestershire and have done so for a long time now. I love it but I still feel like a Londoner in my heart.

What kind of things do you like to cook most?

Right now I’m doing sourdough—like every other person on the planet—but I like cooking everything really. We’re a heavily vegetarian-vegan family, but every now and then I do like a little bit of meat, and it’s nice to cook a roast because I very rarely do.

I like to be inspired by what’s going on, so if it’s a beautiful day I’ll make an amazing tabbouleh or grill some fish, or if it’s a really cosy indoors day; make a stew.

"Self care is doing things that make your heart sing."

I know the last year has presented its challenges, but what joys have you found in the change of pace?

Slowing down, definitely. As much as I’m missing London, and travelling more broadly actually, it’s nice not having that franticness of travelling down to London three times a week and squeezing things into my day. I’m enjoying having my kids around more too—they’re great kids.

What comforts are you taking stock of during this time?

The community feeling that has been born out of the pandemic is a real comfort. And I don’t just mean my local community, but just the feeling of community in a more general sense. We’re all in this together. And I really appreciate this feeling, and seeing how resilient people are, I mean God, we’re amazing aren’t we?

You’re happiest at home when…

When I’m pottering in the kitchen, cooking or trying out something new.

The pandemic is over, you’re having people over for dinner—what do you cook?

I love a vongole because it’s a really easy dish with simple, fresh ingredients, and people always seem to get excited about a vongole. We’ve been having little family dinner parties to keep us busy in lockdown, and we’ve been doing all these creative vegan dishes like cauliflower wings and lots and lots of curries—all of which I’ve really enjoyed.

Describe your personal style…

I like a masculine, tailored look—I’m 5ft 10 so I’m not a girly dresser. I definitely lean towards more boyish silhouettes.

You have 2 minutes to get dressed: what do you wear?

Skinny jeans and a vest is easily my throw-on staple outfit. You can’t beat it.

What does self care mean to you?

Self care is doing things that make your heart sing. It doesn’t necessarily mean having a massage or a facial or yoga, it’s more about giving yourself the time to do something like going for a walk, or have a potter in the house. For me personally pottering is the best self care, it gives me the space for my mind to go wherever it wants to go.

What would be your advice on staying inspired, creative and motivated during these strange times?

Try something new. I’m laughing to myself about the sourdough thing—I started it about two weeks ago—and thought what a waste of time this is (I’m aware I’m three lockdowns late to the party on this, too). But taking the time to get your teeth into something else, be it a jigsaw puzzle, or going for a long meditative walk instead of your morning run. Even forcing yourself to watch a film, rather than endless Netflix binges, can be inspiring too.

Pushing yourself a little bit each day, it really doesn’t need to be massive, just tiny steps and eventually they inspire you and push you even further forward. If you expect too much of yourself, the pressure is too much and you end up doing nothing. Small steps in the right direction and you’ll get to that place you want to go.

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