How Jennifer Zuccarini — The Visionary Behind Fleur du Mal — Built A Brand On Simply Expressing Herself

I arrived at the ever-chic West Hollywood EDITION on a sunny afternoon to meet with Jennifer Zuccarini, the designer and founder behind the irreverently luxurious fashion label, Fleur du Mal. As you would expect from its name, which means evil flower in French (in a nod to Baudelaire’s book of poetry entitled Les fleurs du mal), the line dabbles in the dark side, bringing everything from the esoteric to the psychedelic into the luxury sphere. 

You might walk away from a shopping trip to Fleur du Mal with some sensual lingerie and a crop, just as easily as a lace-embellished bodysuit or elevated silk suit. Some of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe come from the brand, and I’m not alone in this, as it is a known favorite among popstars, actresses, and supermodels alike — like Rihanna, Lorde, Gigi Hadid, and Ashley Graham, to name a few.

How Jennifer Zuccarini — The Visionary Behind Fleur du Mal — Built A Brand On Simply Expressing Herself
Jennifer Zuccarini

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Fleur du Mal

“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” laughs Zuccarini, when asked about her willingness to take on trend-forward and provocative themes in the label. “I love bringing the edge, sexy, and irreverent to the luxury space; things that have emotion and spirit, are cheeky and fun, but still feel sexy, and elevated, and fashion, in a way. It’s very much in my DNA as a designer.” In the past, this has meant collections emblazoned with cannabis leaves and mushrooms, the therapeutic and medicinal sides of which she was interested in exploring with odes to the psychedelic space.

In November, Fleur took on the sensual side of the ballet with a ballet-themed collection in partnership with the ballerina Isabella Boylston, a longtime fan of the brand and principal dancer at ABT. “She approached us, and I wanted to do [the balletcore] trend from a true ballerina’s perspective, so we really collaborated on a design level,” Zuccarini says. 

Isabella Boylston in Fleur du Mal

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Fleur du Mal

“She brought all of her inspiration, from ballet references to what she wears in her everyday life, and we did this really cool collab.” The collection consists of five pieces — two bodysuits, two skirts, and a robe that Boylston can wear backstage — and were made to be garments Boylston “can move in, but in Fleur’s [signature] aesthetic: a bodysuit with the corset-like lines in classic ballet styles, a little silk ballet skirt…”

But aside from their collaborations, part of what makes Fleur so intoxicating is the way that it channels Zuccarini’s authentic artistic spirit. As a creative, she puts a piece of herself into the collections in a way that calls out to the like-minded. A poker-themed collection, for instance, was inspired by her genuine love of playing poker. A money-themed collection, on the other hand, had a divided response — but still sold out. “People have a weird relationship with money, especially women with money,” she reflects. An equestrian-themed collection has also long been in the works.

In many ways it is her openness to the totality of a theme that makes the brand what it is; she is not channeling only a sugar-coated version of what shoppers are comfortable with, and she is not one to shy away from the full spectrum of what it means to be spiritual, feminine, powerful, or sexual. Rather, the brand is an exploration of her spirit as a creative and the journey that her inner world takes her on; she is multi-layered and complex, introspective and completely fascinating. As such, she describes to me the way that her chosen topics and themes percolate in her mind until the time is right to channel them into a collection of garments — which, by the way, she has known she wanted to do since she was eight years old — and it is all done as a way of exploring them; taking her inner musings and making them manifest.

“I love to read about other people’s creative processes, even from other industries — writers, musicians, etc.,” Zuccarini continues. “My creative process requires that I see a lot. I need to absorb a lot of things. It’s all information that I’m storing at some level in my subconscious and it comes out later,” she explains. She notes the way vintage shopping both inspires designs for her label but also her personal wardrobe. Lately, she has been noticing 90’s inspired brands like Miss Sixty and Diesel denim making a resurgence, which could perhaps hold clues to the future. “I love looking at vintage [clothes] and [taking in] art — I love going to see, and walking around, different shapes, color palettes, and inspirations.”

How Jennifer Zuccarini — The Visionary Behind Fleur du Mal — Built A Brand On Simply Expressing Herself
Boylston in Fleur du Mal

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Fleur du Mal 

She finds that breaking out of her routine in New York City, such as when she travels, allows her to find particular moments of inspiration. “When I travel somewhere, and I’m in the moment, present, I tend to have ideas,” she says. “I have to get into a zone to be creative, and I like to have all my things: my favorite pads of paper to sketch, my favorite pencils, get it all laid out, listen to music, and I need a few hours to [get in the space]. I can’t just turn it on, sometimes.” Asked whether she has any upcoming travel plans, she tells me about trips to Miami for Art Basel, to the new Soho House Canouan in the Grenadine Islands, and a planned trip to the foodie hotspot Mexico City.

Yet even back home in the city, there is nothing mundane about her routine. In fact, the open-minded and wellness-infused aspects of her personal rituals envies that of the most wellness-immersed Angeleno. “I meditate every morning and do red light therapy with my Celluma, and I love starting my day that way,” she says of the esthetician-beloved LED device. “I try to exercise and do some form of workout to get in the right mental state and give me energy for the rest of my day, and it has also become so important in order to deal with stress.” She dabbles between preferred workouts, from pilates, to dance, to Barry’s Bootcamp, to yoga. She is also a fan of breathwork, takes longevity supplements like NAD+ and Timeline Nutrition, and is a complete skincare junkie.

After being a fan of Fleur du Mal since practically its conception in 2012, I always expected Zuccarini to be fascinating, but she really is the type of ‘cool-girl’ that you don’t just want to meet — you actually want to be friends with her. Unpretentious and authentically herself, I am convinced that it is the expansiveness of her mind that gives Fleur its je ne sais quoi. “Fleur is such an expression of things that I love. I bring themes into design that I love and am inspired and interested in, because if I am, I’m sure a lot of our customers and fans are, too.” As an artist, she is simply using the modality of luxury fashion to lead and mirror the cultural space.