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Meet entrepreneur and lingerie designer Jennifer Zuccarini

The alumna has dressed reality TV stars in her luxury brand Fleur du Mal
May 6, 2021
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By Lucas Napier-Macdonald, GrDip 17

Jennifer Zuccarini lounges on a sofa in a white coat dress Jennifer Zuccarini, BFA 01, is CEO and head designer at luxury lingerie brand Fleur du Mal. | Photo: Fleur du Mal

Jennifer Zuccarini, BFA 01, is fascinated by the idea of dressing up and undressing.

The Concordia grad is CEO and head designer at New York City-based Fleur du Mal, a luxury lingerie brand she founded in 2012.

Entrepreneurship practically runs in her blood. Her father imported the first Italian espresso machine into Canada in 1954, she says, and his business is still going strong.

Fleur du Mal — lingerie that’s “meant to be seen” — is Zuccarini’s second commercial venture.

“Kiki de Montparnasse, which I launched in 2005, was my first luxury brand surrounding intimacy,” she says. Aside from lingerie, the company also offered erotic books and toys.

Between selling Kiki de Montparnasse and launching Fleur du Mal, Zuccarini spent four years as a design director at Victoria’s Secret.

“It was an opportunity for me to learn from a major, massive corporation that owned the lingerie space,” she says. “I took that position, but I was always thinking of launching my own brand. In the end, I put that experience into the new thing I wanted to do.”

Zuccarini knew from as young as eight years old that she wanted to be a designer, though for a time she considered dealing art. The Toronto native moved to Montreal in the early 2000s to study art history at Concordia.

Before graduating, she returned to fashion, spending a “gruelling” final year at school, working in an atelier by day and attending classes at night.

Her Concordia degree still comes in handy. Her collections at Fleur du Mal are often art-inspired. The work of Japanese photographer and contemporary artist Nobuyoshi Araki, for instance, informed the company’s latest collection, his signature orchids reinterpreted as lace and embroidery.

A celebrity connection

Kylie-Jenner-in-Fleur-du-Mal Social media star and makeup mogul Kylie Jenner wearing Fleur du Mal. | Photo: Kylie Jenner’s Instagram

Just as the work of other creatives inspires Zuccarini, her work influences as well. Reality TV and social media mavens Kendall and Kylie Jenner wore custom-made Fleur du Mal bodysuits in a 2020 ad campaign for Kylie Cosmetics.

“We’ve dressed Kendall and Kylie several times,” says Zuccarini. “It’s always super exciting. We have a relationship with one of their stylists and they reach out to us for special projects.”

Zuccarini says celebrities and their stylists often reach out to several brands at once — and at the last minute. She counts herself lucky that her brand was chosen and that her designs ended up being photographed.

“It really makes a difference [in terms of sales],” she says. “Especially if it’s a great photo of the celebrity in the garment. We post it on social media, which drives a lot of traffic to our website. It’s great for brand awareness, as well. If somebody doesn’t know your brand and they see a celebrity wearing it, in some ways it legitimizes it for people.”

‘You want to make everyone happy’

Though Fleur du Mal actually makes a whole range of clothes, the brand is still best known for its lingerie. And while this niche has borne fruit for Zuccarini, it isn’t without its challenges.

“Bras are so technical,” she says. “If you think about it, a T-shirt is just fabric and thread. A bra has 26 components and might have 36 sizes.”

When a designer is fitting bras, small measurements are crucial. While three millimetres is inconsequential for some clothing, for lingerie it can mean the difference between a perfect fit and a maddening, day-long annoyance, Zuccarini explains.

“That’s the most challenging thing,” she says, “because you want to make everyone happy.”

Zuccarini describes her clientele as powerful, independent women buying lingerie for themselves rather than for somebody else.

“A Fleur woman won’t squeeze into something just to please a partner — she buys what she likes and what makes her feel sexy. She isn’t afraid to embrace both her femininity and sexuality.”

The company also distinguishes itself through education programs. “We do a lot of panels talking to experts about sexuality and dating. We love doing stuff like that.”

Encouraged by the recent popularity of their unisex silk boxers, Fleur du Mal will soon launch a men’s collection. Without providing details, Zuccarini coyly says, “We’re launching some other fun things for men this year.”



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