Merely an hour’s drive outside of Paris, the small town of Saumeray lies amidst the stunning French countryside of endless fields and enchanting forests. A short walk through the village and one comes across a long road framed by a canopy of trees. Like out of a fairy tale, the trees seem to open up as one walks towards a large house that just peers out from the trees until it comes in full view. Emanating a warm and welcoming air, Valerie Messika swings open the door to her country house residence. Exhibiting the gracious and perky character for which she is known, Valerie walks through the kitchen and picks up her coffee. Fashion week has come to a close and it’s now time to rest and rejuvenate with family and friends.
The home originally belonged to Valerie’s father, a renowned diamond dealer, who purchased it over 20 years ago. “It was always our family home. I am so happy that my children can grow up here,” she smiles. “Every time we are about to leave they ask me, ‘Why mom are the holidays so short?’ It’s a big disconnection from the outside world – it looks and feels like a holiday when it is not.”
Her children love feeding the horses, taking a ride on the swing, and running around the field. A trip to the country home is of benefit to the whole family, mentally and physically. “I am a very connected person, but when I am here I don’t have much Wifi and don’t use the phone much,” she laughs, stopping to look at her phone and remarking on the slow connection. The house underwent a massive renovation just a year and a half ago so that it could “feel more modern.”
Valérie Messika in her kitchen, made to measure by ALM. She wears ‘Gatsby’ short Barrettes earrings from the Gatsby collection by Messika Paris, Dhs8,604; An ‘Angel between the finger’ ring by Messika Paris from the Angel collection, Dhs112,312.
Valerie worked with her friend Sophie Reulet to come up with the plan. The two set to work on various mood boards to come up with the inspiration, look and feel of the new home. “The inspiration was for a modern country home with a slightly British style,” she says. “We started from the floor, which you can see is black and white, and we then decided to design everything in black. We also made sure to align each room with floor-to-ceiling windows so that even when you are inside you have the impression that you are close to nature.” Light is a crucial element for Valerie, likewise for her father. She remembers looking at diamonds with him and marvelling at the light cast upon the stones to make them sparkle. “I always pay particular attention to the light in a space,” she adds. “The house gives an impression that everything is open – even the stairway used to have smaller windows and we enlarged them. It was important for us that when you opened the door to the home you saw the trees through the window.”
The design of the house is at once modern, elegant and very playful – an aspect found in Valerie’s jewellery brand. “Playful, relaxed and elegant – these are also elements that define Messika,” she says. A variety of beautiful glossy coffee table books are arranged on Valerie’s lounge table in the living room area alongside a Messika magazine. There are a few candelabras, ornaments and intriguing pieces of African art. “People love details. Even in my jewellery pieces people are very sensitive to them,” she says. “I bought the African sculptures at the flea market in Paris. I love to mix vintage pieces that have story and a history with more modern things.” Indeed, her home is a mix of contemporary design coupled with heritage pieces that remember a former time – the house’s previous history.
Left: A room on the first floor featuring a toad chair, Westwing.com; Pedestal table, Truffaut; Painting, Bargain Hunt; Ceiling light, made to measure by ALM; Right: A view of the master bedroom featuring contemporary art and minimalist furniture.
Outside the sun has started to shine marking a rare moment in the middle of the French winter. Not too far away is a glistening vintage chandelier that brightens the area in a unique way – a reminder perhaps of Valerie’s love of gemstones. Rays of sunlight emanate onto a swing fastened onto a tree outside. We pause for a moment as she takes a few swings, braving the cold winter. It’s a carefree moment. “It’s a swing for adults,” laughs Valerie. “There is something about expressing your inner child that for me is so important.”
This is pivotal to Valerie’s jewellery brand. “I want to be playful because that is also part of my character,” she says with a warm smile. Her Move collection, for example, is versatile collection allowing the wearer to play with her diamonds. “When I was younger diamonds were playful for me – they weren’t sacralised. So when I launched the Move collection it was a way for me to show people how diamonds can be played with in a more casual and less sophisticated way.” Messika’s ‘Skinny’ rings similarly have this quality, allowing the wearer to use them interchangeably on different fingers and paired with other shaped rings. “High jewellery can be fun and playful and these are sentiments that also come out in the home,” she says.
Left: Entrance to Valérie Messika’s country house showcasing a leather horse saddle and modern art; Right: Charming accessories such as white candles and old books can be found throughout her home.
Upstairs are the children’s rooms, guest rooms and the bedroom of Valerie and her husband. Each room is decorated with minimalist furniture, white candles and a few poignant works of contemporary art. Of note is a guestroom with its canopied white bed and basket of candles. Valerie’s large bathroom also painted in an off white hue with a large rectangular bathtub offering a view out of a floor-to-ceiling window onto the serene landscape outside. A small bed is positioned close to the bathtub for a leisurely read or simple moment of pause. Walk up another flight of stairs and you’ll arrive at the most “playful” part of the house: a cinema area with a gigantic bed, and a tepee and theatre for her children to play with. It’s the never-never land area of the home where everyone remains a child.
In so many ways this getaway home is an inspiration for Valerie’s jewellery collections. Many say that creative inspiration comes when we aren’t looking for it – during moments of recreation. This is it. And it’s this quality family time that is so important and equally inspirational to Valerie – one that has allowed her to develop one of the world’s most successful jewellery brands.
Valérie Messika in her country house garden. She wears an ‘Angel Hand’ bracelet from the Angel Collection by Messika Paris, Dhs124,461.
“There’s been a huge shift in the jewellery world over the last five years and we can now say that we are one of the actors in that change,” she says. “It all started from a simple idea. I was with my father and he had diamonds and I said, ‘You know what? I don’t want to follow your business and I will do something else with jewellery.’” The two are very close; it was her father that gave her the support to set up Messika over 12 years ago. It is now dark at the home. The sun has set. Still a sparkle continues to glisten from the chandelier outside. Valerie smiles and adds, “The strength of the brand is that it is my freedom.” Messika.com
Photography by Clement Vidon