Jennifer Zuccarini is the designer behind Fleur du Mal, a luxe lingerie and ready-to-wear line inspired by the art of dressing and undressing. The former design director of Victoria’s Secret and co-founder of seductive luxury brand Kiki de Montparnasse, Zuccarini is no stranger to boudoir style. With Fleur du Mal, her first solo venture, Zuccarini creates distinct all-occasion lingerie and sensual everyday wardrobe staples, putting a new spin on traditional undergarments.
When was the official launch of the line?
We launched online in November 2012.
How did you get started in lingerie?
I studied Fashion Design at FIT and I never thought about designing lingerie, but I was often inspired by it. It wasn’t until we had the idea to start Kiki de Montparnasse that it all happened. I think it just really clicked with me because personally, I was always passionate about beautiful lingerie.
What inspired the name of the collection?
I discovered the infamous collection of poems “Les Fleur du Mal” by Charles Baudelaire while I was traveling in South America. I was drawn to both the duality of the name and the author’s particular story – being a tormented and decadent artist, Baudelaire spent everything he had on opium, women, and clothing … he is a perfect muse for the brand!
Do you find French culture to be the most romantic?
Well, yes. It’s hard to beat.
In what way does Fleur du Mal compare or contrast with Kiki de Montparnasse?
Fleur du Mal is definitely more of a fashion brand. We have a ready-to-wear and a lingerie collection with plans to expand into other categories. We are also more focused on online and social. Kiki is a luxury brand surrounding intimacy that has a more mature aesthetic. Our personality is chic and provocative, but we have a rebellious side. The similarities are there as well. When I started the collection for Kiki, it was very much my DNA as a designer and that’s something you can see in both brands.
It seems you’re pioneering a new territory – lingerie meets ready-to-wear. Who do you consider your competition at this point?
Our competition is really certain lingerie and ready-to-wear brands respectively. I think Stella McCartney does a brilliant job at both, but they are really separate businesses. Our niche is that we explore lingerie as a fashion item that’s a part of your wardrobe, not just something that should be completely invisible under your clothing. The collection incorporates some of the lingerie details and sometimes highlights the lingerie, but also stands on its own.
You rely heavily on social media to communicate your brand’s message. Do you have a team helping you do this or is it all you?
I have someone great on my team who works on social with me. It would be difficult to have an outside person contributing. We have a very particular voice and preference for visuals. Our email campaigns are always cheeky and have a content angle. If we’re having a laugh at the office while we’re working on it, then we know it’s good.
Have women become more comfortable experimenting with lingerie as outerwear? If so, why do you think that is?
Yes and no. I think it shifts with fashion. The last few years we’ve seen a return to crop tops, bra tops, etc. – but we’ve seen that before. I think the panty under sheer is newer – a lot of people don’t like it, but I think it’s super fun. The more you see a trend, the more people start adopting it, but the panty thing takes a lot of guts. It will probably never be mainstream, but then again girls wear shorts that are as short as panties! I look at images from the seventies and women wore sheer and went braless and seemed fine with nipples showing through. Now, our culture now all about concealing nipples and it’s weird. Look at Instagram – they are militant about it.
Is there an unofficial age limit you think women should adhere to when wearing your pieces?
No way. We just had an 88-year-old shop with us!
What advice do you have for caring for undergarments?
I recommend hand washing in cold water or using a mesh lingerie bag in your machine on the delicate cycle with cold water. Never, never use the dryer for lingerie. Rotate your bras so they last longer and don’t wash after every wear.
How do incorporate your line into your everyday style?
I try to wear Fleur every day. I like to wear a sheer silk blouse or button down to show off our bras and bodysuits or wear something unexpected like a bustier layered over a t-shirt, or a slip under an over-sized shirt, so the lace peeks out at the bottom. I like to show the texture of lace under tops, and I like a black bra under a white top – a classic fashion faux pas.