Beyonce, Rihanna, Charlize Theron, Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez and Dakota Johnson. Those are just a few of the A-list stars who have worn fine jewelry designed by Valerie Messika in recent years but there are two names that matter most when it comes to Cannes: Kristen Stewart and Eva Longoria.
Both actresses made high-profile appearances on the red carpet-laden steps of the Palais in 2016, showings that led Paris-based Messika to come back this year in a major way.
For the first time ever, Messika, the daughter of a prominent diamond dealer, has set up shop in a suite at Hotel Martinez — a notable move that makes major brands like Chopard and L'Oreal her festival neighbors. Proximity aside, it's also a sign that Messika and her company, which stands out for specializing in white diamonds cast in modern, often fluid designs, is serious about competing with the heavyweights — and she knows it.
"I won't lie to you — it comes with a little stress," she laughs during a telephone interview from Paris where, at that particular moment, she's running a company and keeping a watchful eye on her two young daughters due to a sick nanny. "When you're in front of these other big brands like Chopard or Tiffany — these people are so strong and they have their traditions. For me, I'm the outsider."
Because of that, Messika admits the appearance is a "test" to see if it's a good fit and if her brand can find a place in the ever-competitive Cannes ecosystem. In doing so, she brings 60 pieces of her High Jewelry collection, nearly 10 Messika staffers and their own private security. (Martinez does not provide security for each suite.)
Launched in 2005, Messika has seen her diamonds worn by other starlets and fashionistas in Cannes though none as high-profile as 2016. Messika says she was surprised when Personal Shopper star Stewart showed up to the premiere of the Olivier Assayas-directed film on May 17, 2016, wearing the Calypso ear cuff and the Gloria double ring to go with her white Chanel mini dress. "I think she loved it because (the ear cuffs) looked so cool with her new haircut," she says. "Kristen is not too much a jewelry person; she's quite rock and roll."