SPACE designer Daniela Villegas is in Paris often, and she loves staying in the Saint-Germain neighborhood and having breakfast at the iconic Cafe de Flore. But today breakfast is at 11am (jet lag, thank you), and, following the most recent advice of her naturopath, breakfast means tea and a glass of orange juice. Every six months she has her blood tested back home in Los Angeles and follows special dietary guidelines from there. There will be no croissants in Paris this season. Wheat is OK, but yeast is not.
“Cane sugar, that’s one of the things,” she says, showing us her list. “And fruit!” The maker of fine insect-inspired jewelry didn’t sleep well last night, and she thinks the doctor-recommended kick of sugar from the OJ will be key to keeping her going and going with all the preparations she has to take care of today.
All images by Jessa Carter
Tomorrow at 9am, inside a stylish rented apartment nearby, she’ll begin seeing editors and buyers and showing them her latest wildlife-and-gemstone creations. So today she will put out the flowers she ordered from her favorite shop on Rue Saint Honoré, and her twin sister—who came from Mexico to help her—will begin baking. Annapaula even brought ingredients from home, all the better for whipping up homemade matcha bread and other treats that will help make Daniela’s visitors feel welcome.
“I love when they look at their watch and they’re like, ‘Oh, I have 30 more minutes until my next appointment, I would love to just hang out here,'” Daniela says of her fashion industry clients, whom she always encourages to stay for as long as they’d like.
The intimate, friendly environment she creates helps her convey the message that her jewelry is also very hand-touched, singular and lovingly attended to. She stops short of matching the decor to her jewelry; yes, she’ll go to Paris’s famous animal kingdom emporium, Deyrolle, this week, but she’s not about placing taxidermy around the room. She just wants the colors and the vibe to be right.
“I got lots of purples and burgundy,” she says of the flowers, “and white, so it feels vintage because the apartment feels vintage.” She tells me that often her work covers the whole spectrum of color—“piñata style,” as she and SPACE buyer Raul Becerra call it—but the spiders and sapphires in her new collection shine with a lot of lavender and wine tones, like the flowers.
After four days of appointments, about halfway through Paris Fashion Week (which lasts for 10 days and should perhaps be called Paris Fashion Week-and-a-Half), she’ll do her final meetings and then close up shop as it were, to have a few days off and enjoy herself in the city—maybe see a runway show or two. (Last night she saw Saint Laurent, or, as she called it, “Anthony’s show.” She’s friends with Mr. Vaccarello.)
She’ll go to the National Museum of Natural History as she usually does, and she’ll probably have a nice dinner at Caviar Kaspia and something more relaxed at Chez Andre, L’Ami Louis or Chez Janou—where they have the best chocolate mousse. And she’ll just do what people do when they’re in Paris: they wander around.
For Daniela, the natural world is a wonderland from where all inspiration and information comes, and the urban environment is where you express it. The weather is cold here in Paris so far but unlike most of the people who travel through this scene, she isn’t obsessed with outerwear.
“Coats, they hide your jewelry,” she says. “I like to just have something with good sleeves,” and points to her Gucci sweater with fingers adorned with snakes and pearls. For now at least, they seem perfectly capable of keeping her warm.
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