We talk Fleur, founder and Creative Director of Fleur of England. As creative director, Fleur oversees the entire business and designs every garment, working closely with our small team to ensure the best possible fit and add a touch of luxury into our customers lingerie drawers. Here we talk to Fleur about her life, her family, and the business that means so much to her.
Can you tell us about your role at Fleur of England?
I’m passionate about creating lingerie that not only looks beautiful, but also fits beautifully too. I still personally design the collections and source all the fabrics myself. I am present at every fit meeting and have final fit approval on all collections. All of the lingerie pieces are hand-designed by myself, from the shape and fit, to the bespoke embroidery designs. I’ve made it my mission to ensure that every experience my customers have with Fleur of England is exquisite. From fabrics, design and luxury packaging to customer service, I expect nothing but the best.
How do you feel Fleur of England has evolved since its launch 19 years ago?
I feel she has grown up; she has developed her own voice and identity. As she has grown, so has my team, The Fleur Girls. We are still a very small business, with only eight of us working across the different aspects of the business. Being an all-female team creates a really exciting and vibrant working environment, with each of the girls bringing their own unique skills and ideas to the business.
Did you always want to run your own lingerie business and what did you do to achieve this?
For me, Fleur of England is the culmination of a dream that began when I was a little girl, growing up in the quintessentially English town of Guildford. I had an older brother, and four cousins who were also boys, and I had to wear a lot of boys’ hand-me downs. Maybe as a result of that, I craved anything feminine and delicate, and became fascinated by fabrics and fashion. I decided to study Fashion Marketing at college and after graduating went on to spend a couple of years gaining valuable experience in technical lingerie in the UK and Asia. I still yearned to create beautiful, feminine and sensual garments that could inspire romance, elegance and sophistication. So at the age of 25, with just a small bank loan and some big aspirations, I founded the exclusive lingerie label Fleur T in 2000, which has now grown and blossomed into Fleur of England.
Do you now look back and think that it was a bold move for you to launch your own business at such a young age?
I suppose it was quite a brave thing to do. But I was sure I was doing the right thing. Fortunately, my instincts were correct, Fleur T was an instant success and I was commissioned to design a limited-edition collection for Liberty of London! My portfolio of exclusive stockists has since grown to include 65 elite boutiques worldwide including Journelle since 2011, as well as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Matches. I was honoured to have my influential role in British lingerie design given a royal seal of approval in 2003, when Princess Anne presented me with the ‘Fashion Export Newcomer’ award. Since then I’ve been recognised by both international trade forums and fashion press as a leader within the luxury lingerie market.
Has your career success made it challenging for you to have a home life as well?
Not at all - I’m pleased to say that as my business has grown, so has my family! I met James, who is now my husband when I was working between Somerset and London. We were parted when I moved to Hong Kong for work, but I missed James so much that I returned to England to be with him. James and I now have two young sons - George and Ernest - and I take huge delight in juggling my two worlds of ‘yummy mummy’ and ‘creative businesswoman’. But I consider my company to be my first baby and it is through Fleur of England that my creativity and naturally feminine style are fulfilled.
Tell us why Fleur of England is based in Bristol.
James was living in Bristol, and as well as falling in love with him I also fell for Bristol. It has been described as “the city of extended youth”, and is renowned for its culture of creativity. I think it is the perfect setting for the Fleur of England team, and our studio is based in a bohemian area of the city. It is from here that we perfect all the design, pattern and fitting work that has enabled us to build our international reputation for leading edge design, attention to detail and supreme fit.
Do you feel the Fleur of England customer has changed since the company started?
I don't think she has changed; I just feel she has evolved with the brand, especially with the digital revolution and social media. Social media can emotionally explain our story and development of our core values of luxury, fit, craftmanship and design merge together to create a world of modern sensuality.
How would you describe the style of Fleur of England lingerie?
Throughout the years Fleur of England has evolved into a brand I feel encompasses the feeling of modern luxury and sensuality. My signature style is romantic yet incredibly sexy and fashion forwards, creating designs that empower the modern woman. My collections are designed to embody the playfulness, elegance and strength of the Fleur of England woman. Fleur of England has grown significantly since its launch in Liberty of London.
What are some of your top defining moments from the past 19 years?
It has been an incredible journey and I can honestly say I have loved every minute of it! Some of the best moments have been winning the UK newcomers export award and introducing my Mother to Princess Anne. Of course, launching the collection in Liberty’s and Barney's New York. I would also have to add the launch of our iconic boudoir bra in the Jasmine collection for Spring 2013. The Jasmine boudoir bra has set the trend for the boudoir bra globally and continues to be one of our best sellers! Finally, I would say winning the Drapers Independent Lingerie Brand of the year last year was an incredibly proud moment for me also.
How do you see the future for Fleur of England?
The future will undoubtedly see more exciting developments at Fleur of England, and there are some very exciting projects in the pipeline for the upcoming year!
To find out more about Fleur's journey to success, listen to the recent podcast on BBCBristol radio here.