Upon walking into the Messy Nessy Chic office I was immediately met with a sense of who Vanessa 'Nessy' Grall - the brains behind the popular blog featuring curiosities from Paris and beyond, is - along with her style. The bright room at the end of a hall in a Hausmannian apartment that has been converted into an office space, is bathed in a pink glow that emanates from her Messy Nessy neon sign hanging on the wall behind her desk, while flamingo lights decorate the radiators. Her unique-chic space oozes charm and inspiration, and boasts an enviable view of the 5th arrondissement from its third floor windows. Having only met her once last year, at the launch of her new book, Don’t Be A Tourist, I was keen to find out more about the London raised, half American, half French blogger and editor. The day of our photoshoot, the Parisian snow lent a sprinkling of winter magic and white light to the office, and despite the moniker of ‘Messy,’ everything felt like it was in perfect order. You could spend hours exploring the weird and wonderful items that adorn her walls and shelves, and flicking through the beautiful coffee table books whilst sat in her big cosy kilim armchair. Toys and trinkets are begging to be picked up and played with and the vintage photographs on display all create the off-beat vibe that embodies Nessy, her blog and her book. Her eclectic Wes Anderson meets Audrey Hepburn bureau aesthetic was the perfect backdrop for our morning spent sipping coffee and chatting about life, inspirations and of course, Paris.
Nessy moved to Paris eight years ago following a three year stint at a small magazine in Notting Hill after dropping out of New York University. With editorial experience under her belt she set up her popular blog after arriving in the French capital (one million fans on Facebook, is no mean feat.) She moved into her current office five years ago, which she shares with with her partner in business and in life, Alex who also runs his own business.
Why did you decide to move to Paris?
It was an experiment, to see if I could survive out of my comfort zone, in a new city and make something of myself. Nothing was holding me back in London at the time so it was the perfect opportunity. To be honest, I don’t think I actually believed I was going to stay. It was one of those dramatic life statements that I was trying to make at the time (kids).
Why did you start blogging?
What inspired me was the early desire to work for myself, I think, and putting my passion into something of my own. I had the editorial experience from writing for a magazine, but there's no better way to find your voice and really explore what you can achieve than when you're in control.
Best career advice you ever received?
Stop underestimating/ undervaluing yourself.
What would you do if you weren't working on Messy Nessy Chic?
I used to sing and I thought I wanted to pursue a career in it, but I found out it’s actually not a very nice industry. But I might have been happy on the jazz café circuit.
How would you describe your interior style?
Messy! I wish I could be more minimalist, but I’m riding the very thin line between collector and hoarder. Let’s call it bohemian.
Favourite piece(s) of furniture/treasures?
My parents’ old kilim furniture. There’s a sofa too, but I couldn’t fit it through the corridor so I’ve only got the one chair in my office for now. They found the set at World’s End in London and had them covered in kilim. I’ll never sell them.
Favourite places/shops for interiors ?
I can’t afford much at Les Puces (at least not the furniture), which is where I like to dream shop. But the Emmaüs shop in the 19th arrondissement is a great Aladdin’s cave to find some bargain gems. On the more practical side, AMPM works for me.
Interiors/style that have inspired you?
My dilemma is I admire so many styles, and I try to mash it all together. I love Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, Peter Beard’s African tents, the crazy kitsch of the Madonna Inn, the Parisian ateliers of the Belle Epoque, the intellectual chaos of the Bloomsbury Group… I could go on and on...
What do you like most about the area you work in, in Paris?
The 5ème isn’t trendy and hasn’t been changed by “cool quartier” syndrome. It’s more old-fashioned Paris without being snobby and it feels very familial, like a nice place to raise kids (or dogs) one day. So in a way, it almost reminds me not to be a workaholic and that eventually, I should make time for that sort of thing.
Favourite sources for inspiration?
Travel of course, but always Paris.
Favourite three social media mavens?
Favourite three lifestyle blogs?
Last good book you read?
What’s in your magazine pile?
Jalouse, National Geographic and vintage copies of LIFE magazine.
What’s on your nightstand?
What’s your morning routine?
Roll out of bed, Santa Maria Novella moisturiser and go.
Go-to alcoholic beverage?
A bottle of Brouilly.
Tea or coffee?
Tchai Tea latte.
My handbags are always just huge sacks that can fit my laptop, a copy of my book in case I find a nice place to photograph it (like Amelie’s gnome) and emergency mascara.
What do you do to relax?
Watch Chelsea Lately or The Crown.
Shop: La Galcante, my secret Paris archive behind the Louvre where I had my book launch; Restaurant: Dong Huong vietnamese food in the 20eme, Cafe of the moment: my local, Le Quartier Rouge, just because it’s a what “a local” is a supposed to be: supportive of the neighbourhood and its residents.
SHOP THE STORY:
Words by Amanda VanOsol and Marissa Cox / photography by Marissa Cox.