Rosemary Ferguson’s story reads like a 90s rock ‘n’ roll fairy tale: discovered by legendary photographer Corinne Day, aged just 15 (in McDonald’s, irony fans), she went on to grace the covers of Vogue, i-D and The Face. Once the embodiment of grunge-glamour (she belonged to the Primrose Hill set that included Kate Moss and Sadie Frost), she has since retrained as a nutritionist and now promotes her love of homeopathic living.
Today, she lives with husband, Jake Chapman (one half of Turner Prize-nominated YBA duo The Chapman Brothers) and her three daughters in the Gloucestershire countryside. As well as turning even her most hardened of party pals (Moss included, we hear) on to the benefits of juicing, she runs a nutrition clinic in Harley Street where she helps to heal the capital’s burned-out professionals. It’s quite a turnaround in a relatively short space of time, here’s why she did it.
What made you decide to change direction from modelling to nutrition?
“I had my second and third children very close together and the chance of going back to modelling was looking less likely – in a lot of ways it’s a career with a time cap. I thought, ‘you know what? I’m 32, I want to do something that I can carry on doing into old age.’ I’d grown up around complementary medicine, so good food and what it can do for you had always been in my psyche. Plus I’m a big believer in trying to get away with the naughty stuff – like going out and then healing yourself by eating well.”
When did you most need healing? And did you discover any secret remedies?
“Oh there were many, many times. I think the shows were always tough on the body. [During fashion weeks] I’d be working from 7am to 2am. It takes its toll. That’s really when I became a fan of juicing – it’s a quick way of getting a lot of nutrients in. Nowadays when I go to a show, I realise that the organisers are really aware of looking after the girls. There’s good, nutritious food on hand because they know that these girls are working 19-hour days. Back then – we’re talking mid- to late-90s – it’s not like they weren’t looking after us, it was just done in a different way. After I came across juices in New York, I’d keep them to hand at those times, or after a big night out. Vitamin C is good for a hangover, don’t you know.”
Who inspired your interest in alternative medicine?
“My granny Mary was one of the first people in the country to open a health food shop. She was an amazing woman – even now that slightly medicinal smell [of health food shops] takes me straight back to her. My mum, Harriet, was really quite naughty when it came to food – she’s a cake eater. But it gave me a really balanced attitude.”
As a nutritionist, are there any wellbeing trends that you really don’t agree with?
“Yes, loads. Particularly the ‘clean, green’ food trend. I hate any form of extreme eating. And this one puts a huge amount of pressure on people because it’s almost impossible to go through a whole busy day eating ‘clean’ – whatever that means. And also, life is for living, it’s not just about chasing this all-kale holy grail.”
What about trends that you do like?
“I think the 5:2 can be good but I see a lot of people who’ll do two days of starvation and then five days of bingeing. It doesn’t really work like that – those five days need to be packed with good, wholesome, nutritious food. And the two fast days can be lighter but you should still try and pack in the nutrients. Burgers and beers five nights a week followed by two days of green soups is not right.”
What tips would you offer someone who wants to get their nutrition back on track?
“I think a liquid day once a week, if you can, is a really great thing to do. That’s not to say that you can go back the next day and binge on rubbish. But a day where you do a soup, a smoothie and a juice – it’s a very simple way to give your gut a rest.”
You live in Gloucestershire now but when you’re in London do you stick to healthier haunts?
“No! There are lots of little pubs I like. And I love J Sheekey; it’s an old one but a good one. I’ve been going there for 20 years probably. I think the first time I went was for a friend’s birthday – there were about eight of us drinking pink champagne. I remember that everyone was a bit over The Ivy so we went to J Sheekey instead. I love that! ‘We’re over The Ivy, let’s go to its sister restaurant for seafood.’ We all got into oysters… yes, it was all oysters and pink champagne, so we felt very glamorous. I still have a glass of pink champagne when I go now.”
‘Juice’ by Rosemary Ferguson, £16.99, Ebury Press, is available from waterstones.com
Rosemary Ferguson’s London Glossary
Top shop: Revital
Revital is an excellent chain of health food shops. They stock excellent brands and good, functional medicine supplements. And their staff are really knowledgeable.
83 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3; revital.co.uk
Favourite workout: The Foundry
The strongman classes at The Foundry are not for the faint-hearted – 45 minutes of flipping tractor tyres and wielding sledgehammers doesn’t sound much fun but I see the results.
Beaufoy Walk, Vauxhall, SE11 and 227 City Road, Shoreditch, EC1; foundryfit.com
Beauty indulgence: Rosewood London
I am rubbish at going for facials and things like that – I just never really think about it. But I booked into Face Place in the Sense Spa at Rosewood London and got the best facial I have ever had.
252 High Holborn, Holborn, WC1; rosewoodhotels.com
Healthy lunch spot: Daylesford
I’m a big fan of Daylesford. It is a brilliant place to go if you need pure, healthy food that doesn’t feel like you are being denied a proper hearty lunch. The food always tastes great, as do the juices, but if you want to indulge they serve booze as well.
6-8 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1; daylesford.com
Best juice: Raw Press
I know a thing or two about juices and Raw Press use wonderful ingredients. Their attitude is really straightforward and they want to share their knowledge with anyone who is interested – I love that ethos.
32 Dover Street, Mayfair, W1 and 3 Ellis Street, Chelsea, SW1; rawpress.co