Today’s interview is with the beautiful Valeria – world traveler and entrepreneur. Valeria is one of those lucky souls with a life filled with amazing destinations, unique experiences and of course, a beautiful closet with style to match. She lives a life that is undeniably luxurious, but doesn’t pull any airs – she is gracious, down to earth and ambitious in her own right – as well as a lot of fun! I had a great time getting to know Valeria more and I hope you all do too.
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Valeria and I currently live in Geneva, Switzerland but move between Paris, London and China constantly. I think I travel more than I sleep!
I am half Russian originally and my mum is of Turkish Armenian origin. At the age of five my family moved from Russia to Beijing, China and that’s where I grew up. When I was 17 I went off to study in Switzerland, Geneva and stayed there.
I’m a cofounder of two luxurious brands and co-own companies. I’d rather not disclose those brands just yet!
You are clearly a world traveler. What are some of your favorite spots for food around the world?
I eat European food mostly but I love all sorts of cuisine. I eat very healthy but allow myself a little fast-food indulgence here and there. No one is perfect, right? It’s important to enjoy life and not obsess over anything, so a little Big Mac makes my day sometimes.
If you are ever in Geneva you have to try my favorite Japanese restaurant- Nagomi! I’ve never yet tried a better crab roll! I’m getting hungry just talking about it.
In London I love so many restaurants, it’s just crazy. Every time we’re there we go to Zuma, Scalini (Italian), Amaya (gastronomic and really tasty Indian), Marivana (Russian) and on and on. London has so many great places and restaurants. As for the drinks I just like a little red wine over dinner (Chateau Margaux is one of my favorites and I really like Chateau Lagrange – anything with truffle notes in it actually). Rosé in the summer, and white when I’m feeling like something fresh, especially Chateau Margaux which is very rare in white, and Pouilly Fumé Baron ‘L’ – yum!
Your brother recently was married. I know that you were very involved and it was a big event for your family – can you share some details?
Yes, my brother got married a few months ago (details here). I think it was one of the craziest parties ever! I mean it was just beyond, the decoration, the performance by Cirque de Soleil, Taio Cruz and Bob Sanclair for the afterparty, each detail, everything was thought through. It was all put together by Alex Betak of Bureau Betak, who does the most gorgeous fashion shows usually and is just so good at what he does.
And the wedding itself, I really can’t describe something so grand and so magical. And we were all so excited, overexcited actually! It also all passed so quickly, one more day of that great ambiance would have been just perfect. And you know how it is with big events like that, you have all the family, all the relatives and friends fly in from all over the world, many that you haven’t seen for years. After breakfast it was all “fast mode” of saying hellos, exchanging a few words, getting ready, fixing up some last minute things, running from a room to the room, and trying not to forget anything.
You had some spectacular dresses. Can you share some more about them?
I had two dresses as the wedding was over two days. For both I went to Jay Ahr. Jonathan Reis is a really good friend and I absolutely love what he does. He just makes some of the most beautiful dresses. So naturally I went to him. My first dress was custom made out of beige- nude tissue for the official ceremony. Very modern Greek goddess like. But then I wore it with red MAC matte lipstick and red Guiseppe Zanotti pumps and it looked a little more retro actually.
My second dress was a golden, sequined, opened back, long sleeved gorgeous long piece. The second one was my favorite, it’s was just so me. I love dresses that are very covered in the front and then have that one teaser – an open back. For me it’s all about small things in clothes and I’m very sensitive to details. It’s also about going for THE look rather than just wearing something. When I saw that golden dress I just knew straight away it was me. I knew how I wanted to wear it and with what. I decided on the plum dark lip and long straight hair. Very edgy, very “vamp lady” kind of look but not vulgar, still very sophisticated. It turned out just amazing!
What are some of your favorite vacation destinations around the world – and places to stay when there?
Ah, traveling. One of my most favorite places in the world for vacation is Maldives, and this is where I was very recently actually. It is paradise on earth… I’ve been to many hotels here in Maldives. Right now I’m staying at the Four Seasons which is very nice, especially for snorkeling and the quality of the food. There are two Four Seasons and I’m at the one closer to the capital but I’ve heard the further one was much more big and better. There are so many new hotels built in the world all time and I love trying a new one every time unless it’s a place I go to often and know my favorite.
Like in Hong-Kong, I always stay at the Island Shangri-la Hotel, I just got used to it, we’d go there with my parents since I was very small and it’s just a habit and feels like home by now. Plus it’s connected to the Pacific Shopping Mall and you can just go down and shop or just walk around and enjoy some yummy deserts with a cup of coffee. Mostly when I travel though, especially around Europe or China I stay at my parent’s houses or apartments. In London I absolutely love the Connaught Hotel. It’s small but the service is just great (they assign your own butler to you who takes care of everything during your stay). In Paris it would be the Plaza Athenee I guess.
You clearly travel a lot. How do you stay in shape with all the moving around that you do?
I’m definitely someone very, very disciplined in my lifestyle and sport is a part of my everyday routine. Sometimes I think I’m too much of a perfectionist, which affects everything I do. I like all sorts of sports but especially love tennis in the summer and I do Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis work out program to keep me in shape and toned. This program is just amazing and is basically the redesigning and sculpting of your body, and I just love it. It’s not easy when you are traveling all the time but I got used to it. It all comes down to me feeling worse about myself if I skip my work out than if I actually do it no matter how tired I feel. Again, that perfectionist side of me is quite controlling and exhausting!
You obviously have an absolutely amazing wardrobe. What are some of your all time favorite pieces that you treasure?
I think most of my favorites are the classics and then a few “IT” seasonal pieces every time. Out of bags there is nothing I like more than a Hermes bag. It’s a classic and it is a great investment. My 40cm black Birkin is my ultimate bag, it’s spacious enough for traveling and at the same time relaxed enough to be worn with everything. I have other Birkins but this one is the one I wear all the time.
My favorite evening clutch is a black crocodile Bottega Veneta, its sophisticated and edgy. And for shoes I think my most loved pair is the classic Louboutin Pigalle 120cm pump. It’s been years I haven’t found a better replacement for an ultimate pump. At the moment I really like Nicholas Kirkwoods as well but they’re not a classic classic, if you know what I mean. And then there are my vintage Levis cut off spiked jean shorts. I don’t leave anywhere without them. And of course all my Alexander Wang simple short and long sleeves tees. I just can’t live without them. The rest of the things are seasonal and trendy so I wouldn’t state them as my favorite pieces.
Each season I have a new favorite piece, more or less. Right now it’s my Givenchy boots and caps, slouchy coats and structured pants, and on and on and on. And for jewelry apart from classic diamond studs that I wear on my ears most of the time (they look so stylish and refined and I can really wear them with any outfit) and the Cartier Love bracelet, right now I just love my Dannijo necklace and everything Mawi. Oh and I’m completely crazy about Loree Rodkin and Repossi. Their pieces are just wow! Rather than that I just love to wear things that I don’t need to take off and put back on again.
What are some of the items you wear the most – that you have gotten the best “cost per wear” from?
In my everyday life I mostly have had the same jewelry since years.
Oh, and of course my jade bangle. It’s from the Chinese part of me, which I almost never never take off. It’s highly valued in Asia and is considered to bring you good energy and protection. Chinese prefer jade to diamonds and say that this stone is alive. I don’t know about all of that but I’m really attached to my bracelet and really love it. It’s really amazing to have something you wore for so many years of your life, it’s like it holds all your memories in it, it’s a part of your life
Can you share some of your favorite luxury brands – and some of your favorite high street brands?
Favorite brands… Hermes and Chanel for the bags even though I’ve been really enjoying Celine’s pieces lately for the bags and clothes. Past seasons I really loved Balmain and Isabel Marant, now I’m turning to Celine, Stella MacCartney, Givenchy. It’s always different from season to season but I always like edgy things. I’m not very “girly girly”.
As for the high street there is nothing like Zara and Topshop… love the two! Also whenever I’m in France or England I go to COS, they have some really nice pieces as well. I’m not sure if one can call it a highstreet brand but it is still very affordable. But Zara is on top of my list, sometimes I find really great pieces there that I can’t find in other luxury brands.
What’s a piece of advice about style and building the perfect closet that you’ve learned the hard way over the years?
Over the years I have learned that you can’t buy all the new season’s pieces, and instead learned to go for classics and choose the few really trendy and cool items out of the new collections. When there is something crazy as a new trend I like to purchase it from Zara or cheaper brands as I know I wont wear it more than a few times at most. Now I’ve learnt to choose the pieces I absolutely want from the new collections in luxury brands and then dissolve it with some highstreet and other classic items.
I used to go crazy and buy so much every season before, and then wear something a few times at most and shove it at the back of my closet. Now I think it’s a waste and try to be more intelligent about things I buy. I know what I want from the collections in advance and go to the shop with a purpose usually. It’s rare for me to do spontaneous purchases.
I think any item that one wears a lot is a best “cost per wear” purchase. Especially basic pieces like Alxander Wang tees, or a perfect pair of jean shorts or my long boyfriend blazer I just love from Stella McCartney. Even a very expensive Birkin bag is a better buy/investment than any other bag in my opinion because I have kept it and will keep it for years if not forever instead of buying two, three new it bags each season. It comes down to spending less over a long period of time.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
Well, I definitely love fashion, it’s something that is a way of life for me and it always gives me a great mood. Also I’m a little crazy about dogs, you know I have two already, and trying to stop there. My family isn’t very excited about my sympathy for all animals and the fact that I always want to save one when I see them in a cage or in a street.
And of course traveling… I can’t stay in one place and it’s a lifestyle habit, to travel all the time. I think it’s amazing to see and know so many amazing places and lives. Each city is different and each place has something special. And my family is all over the world and we are all very international and I love it! So much more excitement and there’s something new every time! And of course my work, I always knew I wanted to be my own boss and build my own business very early on and hopefully a great empire in the future. I’m very business minded and love working and am really good at it. At least up to now.
Can you share a piece of life advice?
I’ve really come to treasure every moment in life. Once you hit that 25 years old mark, you really realize that life goes by way too fast and instead of enjoying life and the “right now” we often spend our time worrying or planning for the future. I’m not saying that’s not important, but I used to think that 25 was so far away and I still had so much time to do so many things before then, and bam, there it was within what I felt was just a few years.
I don’t want to have any regrets when I’m old and really urge everyone not to forget to enjoy life and have fun! You only get one of those (I mean we don’t really know what’s after) so it is so important to enjoy every single day. No matter what, everything will pass and life as well, so enjoy it while you can and don’t over think anything. Too much importance in any field or part of your life will bring trouble eventually. Just keep that balance, stay always positive and enjoy! Life is so great, and it’s only up to us and our minds to determine what it will be. I’m a big believer that we make our own lives, and it’s just a waste to spend one worrying about all the wrong things. If I have a hard moment I tell myself that “everything will pass, and this too.”
Allow yourself to have the best of life and truly live every single moment. Don’t waste it. It’s too precious. Two people can live the same life and one will think he’s had an amazing one and the other a horrible. It’s all about us learning to be happy about small things and deciding to be happy. I’m boring you, no? Anyways, just really have fun, learn to see the positive in any negative situation and you will see how it will all turn around! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy starting today!
Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!
Oh, that’s a hard one. I think me, myself is a one big surprise, ha! Well, it’s really hard to judge yourself I guess. I mean something that seems normal to me might seem surprising to the public. I’m really sorry but I wouldn’t know what to answer here exactly. I’ll have to go and ask my entourage. Maybe they would have lots of things to tell me, and maybe I don’t want to know them!
I loved Valeria’s life advice, it was so charming and very spot on. A fantastic reminder that in the end, we should all try to enjoy and live our lives with as much balance (and fun!) as possible. Thank you very much to the beautiful Valeria for sharing some of her life, travels, and style here today. For more of Valeria, check out her blog, here!