OCCUPATION: Executive Fashion Director at British Vogue
MY STYLE: I’m never one to shy away from print, color, and texture—both at home and in my wardrobe. Life’s too short for beige, but I do stay true to classic cuts and tailoring. Clements Ribiero, Dries van Noten, Marni, Erdem, and Jonathan Saunders are some of my favorite designers. For accessories, Nicholas Kirkwood, Prada, and Tabitha Simmons always delight.
I LOVE LONDON BECAUSE: No other city offers the breadth of cultural, artistic, and historical experiences that London does. Drive 20 minutes and you can get from world-renowned art museum to thriving street market to Michelin-starred restaurant.
Not only is this Pimlico Road restaurant called The Orange, but thanks to decorative citrus trees, it smells like oranges too. The menu features ricotta pancakes, wood-fired pizza, and artisanal ales, and while the wine list is rather brief, it’s also good enough to convince you to stay the night in an en suite room upstairs!
The Purple Dragon
You might have to pass by a bodyguard to get into this luxurious kids’ club, but once inside, the possibilities are truly endless. Purple Dragon has trampolines, an indoor climbing gym and obstacle course, a giant Wii console, a music room filled with instruments, a child-friendly kitchen, and a swimming pool. “My kids are in heaven from the moment we walk in until I pry them away,” says Calgary Avansino, who can—along with other parents—relax, sip cappuccinos, and read the news from an iPad while her kids play under trusted supervision.
Literatis love this Edwardian, oak-paneled bookshop in Holland Park (with five other locatiosn throughout London) because it looks more like a library than a bookstore. Daunt specializes in—but is in no way limited to—travel books, as catalogued by continent. If you aren’t sure which book to buy for a loved one, just purchase a Daunt Books Subscription and the staff members will happily play book concierge.
Storeowner Donna Ida Thornton is confident that any body type can look amazing in the right pair of jeans, and the denim selection at Donna Ida reflects this very belief. You’re also sure to find a prime selection of basic tees, delicate blouses, dresses, and outwear at any of the boutique’s four London locations. Calgary Avansino likes to pop into the Belgravia branch after shopping for kids’ shoes at the nearby Papillon. “I’ll come into Donna Ida for the best selection of jeans—for me!” she says.
Mungo & Maud
This pet store believes that canines and felines deserve the finest, as evidenced by its extensive selection of collars, toys, bones, beds, crates, and even clothing! “We’ll come here to buy a treat for our 14-year-old dachshund, Stella,” says Calgary Avansino. And while the brick-and-mortar storefront is charming, be sure to check out Mungo & Maud’s website—complete with tons of adorable pet photos—if you want some “Awww” moments.
There’s a lot packed into this park, one of the smallest in London. In addition to the dahlias, roses, woodlands, and Kyoto Gardens, Holland Park also houses a youth hostel, playground (complete with a tire swing and see-saw), open-air theatre, and—believe it or not—several saddleback pigs, as they are known to help with woodland management. Kids will love to watch them roll around in the mud!
Royal Court Theatre
The Royal Court Theatre prides itself on showing new work and fostering emerging young writers, especially those under the age of 26. “We try to see as many productions here as possible,” says Calgary Avansino. “Whether thought-provoking or funny, they’re always good.”
This hard-core Kings Road studio emphasizes one of many pilates variations—namely, the bar method, which combines ballet bar exercise with rehabilitative therapy. For best results (including leaner, tighter muscles and improved posture), barre method experts recommend going to class at least three of four times a week.
The Natural History Museum
Thanks to a 21st century upgrade, this 130-year-old museum now houses a state-of the-art Darwin Centre. In addition to millions of zoological organisms and botanical specimens, the Natural History Museum excites with its crowd-pleasing display of dinosaur skeletons and, of course, the rare and beloved 8.62 meter-long giant squid, Archie.
Designer Rachel Riley learned to knit and embroider—both signature features of her charming children’s garb—while working in a haute couture atelier in Paris. Today, the line’s classics include pinafore dresses, dungarees, rompers, and Rachel Riley’s signature hand-sewn slippers. “We especially love it when they have sales,” says Calgary Avansino. “We all love a gorgeous dress for ten pounds!”
Lassco, which stands for London Architectural Salvage Supply Co., buys and sells such unique elements as Victorian Era doorknobs, stained glass, rustic floorboards, wrought iron railings, yacht parts, and musical instruments. “The girls love exploring the vast back garden, too, with all the statues and decorative pieces,” says Calgary Avansino. “It’s a treasure trove.”
Whether you’re into ballet, strength training or downhill skiing, Sweaty Betty is sure to fulfill your clothing and accessories needs. There are several locations throughout London and beyond, and the online store has it all: from yoga mats and swim goggles to sizing guides for bras and shoes. You can also find the brand’s signature yoga bands (and several other products) at Selfridges and Harrods.