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STYLE + SUBSTANCE // Valery Demure

Valery and I never met personally, but when you read the interview you'll realize why she stood out in my Instagram feed. There's no seeking for attention, she is a polyhedral woman who can show at the same time strong opinions and romantic gestures, she is an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife and a relentless supporter of creativity and artistic inclination. Exquisite and unique taste make her special. 



style + substance = empowerment. Are you on board?

VD - Always, always although empowerment happened late to me


Your personal style in three words

VD - black, playful and bejeweled


A mother, a collector, a curious wanderer of all things beauty: how you do it all

VD - Still not sure! I have a great husband who takes care of all things at home and who follows me in all my adventures.


On shopping with a purpose 

VD - I never really shop for a purpose unless it is food shopping, I am always up to discover a great object, a beautiful texture, a mix of rich colors etc.  I am a wanderer.


Do you feel like sharing one secret?

VD - I can share a secret, for every thing, I like to go off the beaten track...shops, restaurants, places, friends etc. I love the unexpected.

Images below come from


Your relationship with fashion: single, married, it’s complicated or …

VD - Can’t live with it, can’t live without it, a love and hate relationship


What’s the one thing a woman should do to feel powerful?

VD - To have the patience, the honesty and courage to truly know herself


When did you find your confidence?

VD - Very late in life, after years of soul searching and therapy, although I have always spoken my mind, and I have always been quite assured in my taste for all, music, arts, fashion, food, men etc.


How do we get rid of the princess/cute/pretty/pink stereotype?

VD - What stereotype ? cute ? pretty ? pink ? I have no idea what you are talking about… princess, …yes who does not want to be treated like a princess ?


You look at your closet holding your morning coffee ready to get dressed: personal uniform or outburst of creativity?

VD - Instinct only instinct...a gut feeling… no personal uniform … always a little fun detail…fun socks, cool handbag, one of a kind vintage sunglasses but never never over the top, not craving for attention. I tend to dislike attention seekers, I find them rather sad.


Which irritates you more and why: “Sustainable fashion is boring” or “Fashion is frivolous”

VD - Of course Fashion is frivolous however it is such an important part of any culture, and although I can find sustainable fashion clothes and accessories a little too plain, I like the philosophy behind sustainability very much and I think sustainable fashion is evolving fast and it will be become more and more exciting. I am a firm believer too that we must preserve and support, promote craftsmanship all around the world, to me Craftsmanship is an essential part of any culture. I am less interested in the idea of Fashion than the one encompassing true craftsmanship and forward thinking design.

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STYLE + SUBSTANCE the return

On why I am relaunching STYLE + SUBSTANCE.


style + substance

I keep thinking at vulnerability as one of the greatest traits of strength in a woman’s life. The more I mumble over the subject in my head, the more I see it happening through life’s daily episodes and I convince myself of its truth.

In dire moments of political and social turmoil, we all long for strength and confidence, as I perceive from many of my readers messages. It’s to honor my small and rich community of exceptional women that I have decided to relaunch the series by inspiring everyone with the same women that inspire me.

Because “empowered women empower women” something I wish I had said first, instead I read it somewhere and I would credit the author if I knew it.

“Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita” the inception of Dante’s Inferno that we all have tattooed in our memories, reminds me of my freshman year, also known as “quarta ginnasio” for my Italian readers.

Back then, I was 15 going on 40, I had a life ahead of me, the world in my pockets, I was invincible, in my head. I was also so many light years distant from my mom’s and the little town where I grew up. My life used to revolve around summer, the season when I would become the butterfly from a year in the cocoon.

I was never instructed, invited, empowered to nurture the best of me, my strengths were never magnified because even with a B+, there was always someone else in my class who had scored an A, right? Which is, according to my friend Gabriella, typical of Italians: we don’t promote ourselves like we were our own marketing team, we are always prone to consider who did it better than us. We don’t cry, we don’t show we are hurt or vulnerable, we swallow pride and accept that there’s always someone better than us.

That’s why I have always been “team summer” and never autumn, the season when nature starts decaying, sad and depressing, leaves die, it’s cold and grey, all elements of that vulnerability that “we don’t show”. Until I found myself living in a place where there was no autumn or winter and all that strength of the summer started fading poorly. Maybe I was as good in the summer as I was in a season that doesn’t exist down here?

“I’m grateful to them, and to my fifth-grade class, because if they hadn’t made me cry, I wouldn’t be able to cry on cue now. [Dabs tears]

If I hadn’t been told I was garbage, I wouldn’t have learned how to show people I’m talented.

And if everyone had always laughed at my jokes, I wouldn’t have figured out how to be so funny. ” says Gabourey Sidibe in Vulture

It’s on the weaker side that you build your strength.

Emotions guide your life, they don’t define it, they are like revolving doors, you smash your face on them once on the way out and chances are you will again on the way in the kitchen. You cry, learn and move on.

“Happiness comes from solving problems” – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Everyone wants the perfect and fabulous life, the one that many depict in their social media persona.

Success and the empowerment that derives from it are the product of your pushing through struggles, defy your current status and reach for the stars.

If you do all this with the most exquisite clothing, les jeux son faits, or, as yours truly says it: “Luxury is a state of mind”.

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style + substance // Dominique de merteuil: can style go "beyond my control"?


The idea of style + substance series was born to inspire women and support the process of blending femininity with leadership, style with career, motherhood with business. 

As well as we are all exceptional, being exposed to other exceptional women will further the purpose.

I want to use my voice to inspire and expand its reach by featuring other inspiring and powerful women. It's shaping up as a club, a mastermind clique: we don't follow trends, we don't owe prettiness to anyone (wait until you read the chapter on the book), there's no trendy or cute in our dialogue, we don't need to thrive to please, as our strength and confidence come from affirming who we are. 

What better than with what we wear?

Here's my contribution to inspire with a purpose: to be uplifiting with a great dose of bitch and fun, as in "don't take yourself too seriously". 

We are the product of the 5 people around us, let's make it real. 

I have stumbled upon women like Dominique De Merteuil of "It's Beyond My Control" on Instagram, with whom even the simple attraction of a few pictures and shorts exchange of comments has shown that together we can exponentially expand our point of view. 

Get inspired away!

Style is who we are inside and trends are what people want us to be?

DDM- I’ve never cared for trends because the only fashion that has ever caught my eye has been that worn on the screen in my favourite 30s, 40s and 50s films which starred such style icons as Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn. It’s the costumiers like Adrian and Edith Head who I’ve been learning from, observing closely the way they styled all those incredibly glamorous and always immaculate looking movie stars. I agree wholeheartedly with Edith Head who once said “Fashion is a language. Some know it, some learn it, some never will – like an instinct.”  I buy mainly vintage clothes from the 40s and 50s as well as authentic Victorian capes and skirts. I do however buy modern fashion, that which has been inspired by my favourite periods of time, and mix it with authentic vintage accessories. It’s important to find your own style, build your wardrobe around it and not around the trends.

Do you remember your first fashion moment?

DDM - Fondly! I was 10 or 11, visiting with my mom, a Dior shop in Montreal and saw a couture dress for the first time in my life. I remember that it was red and really over the top. The shop manager let me try it on because I told her that it was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life and whoever will wear it, they will be the luckiest person in the world.

Don’t dream it. Be it.
— Dominique De Merteuil

When did you realize it was time to be fearless and badass to embrace your style ‘no matter what’? 

DDM - When I was about 8 or 9 years old and watched The Rocky Horror Picture show for the very first time. That’s when my obsession with corsets and very theatrical fashion started. My mum went out of her wits trying to find a corset for a child and sadly she didn’t succeed. Living in NYC taught me that you can be whoever you want to be and dress the way you like even if it means standing out from the crowd like an odd ball. After all it was Coco Chanel who said “I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all.” and who am I to argue with Miss Chanel. :)

Before leaving the house you … 

DDM - Make sure that I have my red lipstick and perfume in my bag. I feel completely naked without them. 

Do you have a muse? 

DDM - My biggest inspirations are Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn for their very unique beauty, strength, intelligence and incredible sense of style. Also my fabulous mum, a real style icon, who initiated my interest in fashion and art, she used to take me to see ballet and opera from when I was 5 years old.

The piece of advice that you wish you would have received yourself

DDM -  “Don’t dream it. Be it.”  Don’t be afraid of being ridiculous. 

Some thoughts:

"The way you dress is a reflection of your cultural background" 

"You can have a career and love clothes" 

DDM - I don’t think that the way I dress is exactly a reflection of my cultural background, as I’ve lived in four different countries and have been traveling extensively since my teens when I was working as a fashion model and due to my current work of being the founder and fashion editor of I’ve always been inspired by Old Hollywood Glamour and honestly believe that I was born in the wrong era.

You can find Dominique on her BLOG and on Instagram