Fleur du Mal founder Jennifer Zuccarini is a high concept kind of girl. The designer and entrepreneur behind the new luxury ready to wear and lingerie online destination adores beauty, fun, and decadence. Still, her elegantly edgy designs are also very wearable—just ask Vanity Fair, TheNew York Times, and WWD, which have all featured Fleur du Mal since the site's November launch. With previous gigs including co-founding lingerie line Kiki de Montparnasse and working as design director of intimates for Victoria’s Secret, the New York-based Zuccarini is inspired by the idea of dressing up, and, she explains, undressing.
Tell us about the concept of Fleur du Mal.
JENNIFER ZUCCARINI: I was really interested in the idea of desire and building a lifestyle around that. It's really inspired by the idea of dressing and undressing—things to wear at night, beautiful underthings. Building a world around that has always fascinated me, from music to art to collaborations.
What made you decide to name the brand after a Charles Baudelaire novel, Les Fleurs du Mal?
JZ: I was always thinking about it! I came across the name when I was traveling in Argentina. I came across the book and it just kind of hit me: this could be the one. I liked the duality of the name, something that's beautiful but also has a darker side to it.
The darker side feels very New York.
JZ: Yes, that's what makes New York interesting—it has some of that grittiness. I wanted it to be beautiful, but I didn't want the brand to be too precious. I wanted it to have a spirit to it.
You personally designed every piece in the collection. What was your inspiration?
JZ: For my first collection, I was really inspired by the idea of Paris nightlife in the 1970s, like Régine's. It's fun, decadent, and sexy. I love that whole feeling.
Let's talk corsets. Why should a modern woman have a corset in 2013?
JZ: I think it's the one thing you can put on that really transforms your figure and your body. It makes you feel so great. Of course, it's not something I think women should wear all the time—it's an experience. Even getting into a corset, you have to have help from a friend. It's not that easy, but it's really rewarding when it's on you in the right way. It cinches you in, it changes your posture and your body. A shaper can have the same effect, but it's not going to be as dramatic as a corset.
We did a collaboration with a corset maker in Paris called Cadolle. We did leather ones made from French lambskin, and we also have a corset without lacing to wear under things, and then we have a bustier.
What sets Fleur du Mal apart from other lingerie brands?
JZ: If you go to department store, it's really kind of depressing. I don't find it a great experience. This is more of an aesthetic, a culture. And trying things on at home can be really nice instead of inside a cramped dressing room.