Little ballerinas dream. Adult ballerinas do. Alison Mauzé, tall, effortlessly chic, an Ivory Snow girl with finishing-school polish, is a beautiful, grown-up ballerina who makes a difference. Chairwoman of the San Francisco Ballet’s Auxiliary’s Where Dreams Come Alive Nutcracker Luncheon, she’s raising funds for, and awareness of, Helgi Thomasson’s magnificent staging of the Tchaikovsky classic, running through Sunday.
Calm, poised and spiritual, with an ease that kindles and burnishes conversation, Alison engages the hearts and minds of those who meet her, eliciting the best in people. As Disraeli said, "To believe in the heroic makes heroes."
"I’m an optimist. I’ve always been an optimist," Alison says. If her smile is a barometer, she’s in the warm zone. The woman radiates joy.
This year’s Nutcracker Luncheon, a new addition to the ballet events calendar, was a grand affair for children of all ages, a fête featuring a nutcracker, wind-up doll, magician, fortune teller, amid a "Nutcracker"-themed menu, that served as a precursor to the performance.
Alison, who studied ballet as a young girl at the Ithaca Ballet company, was born in upstate New York. One of three children, she attended boarding school, then graduated from Davidson College, a small, prestigious liberal arts college consistently ranked in the top 10.
A pre-med psychology major, it was there Alison met her husband, Michael, an investment banker who runs his own highly regarded private-equity firm, VMG Equity Partners. Married at 23, the two moved to New York, where Alison climbed the canyons of Wall Street at J.P. Morgan, working in corporate finance and human resources. The couple has three children: Christopher, 15, Jackson, 14 and Edward "Teddy," 11, born while the family was living in Hong Kong.
Relocating to the Bay Area six years ago, Alison joined the Ballet Auxiliary in 2001, at the suggestion of O.J. Shansby. With her finance background, Alison soon took over as events treasurer, overseeing the $1.7 million dollars raised annually through all Auxiliary events.
Alison’s Marin home is a spacious three-story enclave, protected by open space and ensconsed on two acres. Views of the Bay, The City and Marin are spectacular. "We sit in bed and see the sun rise over San Francisco," she says.
The mission-style residence originally was a study in white. Alison changed all that, introducing color (her red dining room is a vibrant space that invites dynamic conversation), with energized peaches, yellows and greens. Paintings from the Pacific Rim by masters such as Vietnamese Quach Dong Phuong dominate the walls and the high-ceilinged living room, featuring a two-story picture window opening showcasing the panoramic landscape.
Lightness, energy, candles abound. Alison is a woman who knows and appreciates life’s gifts. She lives in joy and gratitude each day.
Key's to Alison Mauzé's Style
STYLE PHILOSOPHY: I’m very classic. Clean. Minimalist with makeup.
STYLE SECRETS: I think you have to know what looks good. It’s buying something and knowing how to make the most of it. Also, exercise and drink plenty of water. And spiritually, feel good about who you are.
GOT STYLE FROM: I learned a lot about style when I was in boarding school. All the girls were incredibly elegant.
COMFORT VS. STYLE: Comfort
COLOR VS. TEXTURE: Texture
FAVOURITE COLOR? Pink
WHAT DOES COLOR SAY TO YOU? Every time I wear it I feel prettier. People say I should wear it every day.
MUST-HAVES: Love. My family is the most important. And friends. It’s all about giving. We also have a lot of wonderful animals: Beckham, a German shepherd, four cats, four rabbits and a gecko.
SECRET CACHE OF: We collect Asian art. Vietnamese pieces and pieces from mainland China. We’ve met many of the artists we collect.
MOST BELOVED OBJECT: My "girl" sculpture from China. I have three boys. She’s my little girl.
WHAT PEOPLE WOULDN’T KNOW ABOUT ME: I love to cook. Fresh food from scratch. I think so few people do it. You can have beautiful, fresh food in minutes.
WOULD NEVER: I’d never hurt a friend.
FAVORITE DESIGNERS: Lili Sami and I are dear friends. I love Chanel.
MOST UNUSUAL THING ABOUT ME: I play piano, grew up playing piano. It’s a part of my life. My eldest son is a wonderful pianist. But mainly, I’m a very happy and grateful spiritual person. I recall, when my husband and I were first married, we started out without very little money. We were in our first apartment in Brooklyn Heights, with hand-me-down furniture. He had just returned from a meeting at Columbia, and I had gone to market, and there were flowers on the table. And he said, "You’ve made it into a home."
HOT TIP: Wear fragrance every day. It makes you feel pretty, adds an accent and you share it with others. (Alison’s favorite: Chanel #5.) And light candles. I love candles. My favorite are from Mill Valley Candleworks, in Strawberry Village.
LIFE ADVICE: So many people live as if tomorrow is so important without really achieving today. I lost my brother last year, Jackson Osborne Hall Jr. We were very close. I know that every day is a special gift. Enjoy every day.