On a terraced hillside, high above the Pacific coast of Mexico, stands a villa called Casa Torre. The residence, in an area near Jalisco developed by the late Italian banker Gian Franco Brignone and nicknamed Costa Careyes (“turtle shells” in Spanish), is home to fashion world bon vivants Sally and Michel Perrin. For Michel, the president of his family’s 130-year-old French leather goods house, Perrin Paris, and his expat American wife, Sally, who serves as creative director for the traditional brand, Careyes is more than a part-time escape, it’s a way of life. “It’s a place that has brought us a lot of joy,” she says.
They met Costa Careyes when they were invited from Los Angeles to a birthday party 14 years ago. “It was a real defining moment for us, we just fell in love with the vibe,” says Sally. With their two teenage daughters in tow, the couple returned later that year for a few weeks over Christmas and were totally hooked. “The community was so warm and friendly, so we came back year after year and rented different houses each time,” says Michel. Then, in early 2019, they found out that Casa Torre was for sale and the stars suddenly aligned. They sold their Los Angeles home and started a new chapter living between Paris and the world of Brignone.
It’s been nearly 55 years since Brignone first saw the nearly six-mile stretch of jungle, cliffs, and beaches that make up Costa Careyes. Looking down from the cockpit of a single-engine Cessna in 1968, searching for an idyllic place to retire with his family, he instantly fell in love with the area, and the rest is history preserved in full color.
Once an uninhabited coastline to be accessed by boat and explored on horseback, Costa Careyes is now an exclusive enclave of some 60 impressive private homes designed in what is known as the Careyes style. With their open-air thatched palapas, curvaceous architecture, and electrifyingly colorful facades, these seaside castles dot the modest expanse of the region like delicious treats. In addition to its architectural ideology, Brignone’s mission, along with that of five decades of residents, has always been to support local communities and safeguard the vast area of wetlands along the coast, which includes a sanctuary for sea turtles.
Designed by the Mexican architect Diego Villasenor and built in 1988, the Perrins’ five-bungalow golden yellow and raspberry sorbet home, with its living palapa and three separate dining palapas, each used at different times of day depending on the position of the sun, offers views glorious, unobstructed views of Playa Rosa and the coastline. The property’s lush tropical gardens had their own incredible pedigree, as they were created by Eric Nagelmann, the landscaper behind lotus land, the legendary botanical garden in Montecito, California. “Being in communion with nature, the outside experience, is almost more important than being inside,” says Michel. “We don’t have glass windows anywhere in the house. Everything is open to nature, and that is the key element. It’s extraordinary, like a painting in motion: you can look at the sky all day.”
most of furniture it’s built-in, including ample lounge-style seating, end tables, and platform bed frames. “Other than a few pieces of art, we didn’t import anything from the Los Angeles home,” Sally notes of the carefully curated interiors. “None of that would have worked and besides, it’s nice to have a fresh start.” At the start of the pandemic, the Perrins spent six months living comfortably in the welcoming oasis, with minimal furnishings, learning how their lifestyle fit with the flow of the house. From recruiting a master carpenter and skilled upholsterer from nearby villages to sourcing indigenous products to retailers, the couple created their own version of Shangri-la.
When they’re in residence, they’re up early running businesses in Paris, and even though the days are busy, there’s always time for fun and relaxation. “I swim in the ocean every afternoon, play backgammon and have cocktails every night,” says Michel, who prefers an Americano (“it’s a Negroni without the gin”) while his wife prefers a spicy margarita at lunch. play. “There is a word in French, playful, which means whimsical, clever,” says Sally. “I think that’s what we were trying to achieve with this house: keep it light and fun.”
Designed by Anita Sarsidi
This story originally appeared in the WINTER 2023 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE