Some children want to be firefighters when they grow up, some want to be ballet dancers and some want to be astronauts. But Fleur Turner, founder and Creative Director of Fleur of England, had her sights firmly set on something a bit different. “I’ve always been obsessed with fabric,” says Fleur. “From the age of nine I used to cut up my mum’s old dresses and make clothes for my dolls. I loved the silk and the lace.”
It’s perhaps not surprising then, that Fleur went on to head a luxury lingerie brand, known for its exquisite detail and sumptuous fabrics. “I grew up in a family of boys and wore boy’s clothes until around the age of 14!” jokes Fleur. “I think it was this that made me love the feminine and the pretty. I used to sketch clothes for my dolls and make them dresses. I was always drawn to lace and silk.”
This passion for pretty has seen Fleur’s work featured in the likes of Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Elle, with her collections regularly receiving rave reviews around the world. So when she steps back and surveys what she has created, does Fleur feel a sense of pride? “To see my brand go from concept to success is incredibly inspiring,” says Fleur. “I love designing, and then to see the smiles on the buyers’ faces when I showcase a collection. You can’t get more satisfaction than that.”
From designing dresses for her dolls to spending time at school studying fashion and textiles, Fleur’s creative foundations were laid early on. These were cemented with her choice of degree subject. “I chose to study Fashion Marketing at university because I knew I wanted to set up my own business one day. The course covered graphics, design, business and marketing,” explains Fleur. It was in the final year of this course that Fleur’s luxury lingerie brand was born.
“Fleur of England started life as ‘Fleur T’,” says Fleur. “I chose the name because it was my nickname at school.” So the concept was born – but the brand wasn’t officially launched until later. Ever the sensible businesswoman, Fleur set about gaining some experience before jumping straight into setting up her own brand.
“After I graduated from university I worked in industry for two years, first for Marks and Spencer and then in the Far East in Hong Kong.” The identity of Fleur of England, as we now know it, has been hugely shaped by this early experience, Fleur explains. “Working in the Far East, visiting factories in China and seeing textiles produced on a large scale, made me realise I didn’t want this for my own brand. It was then that I decided that – when I did launch – I would keep production in Europe.”
Fleur T was officially launched in 2001. Success was instant, as the acclaimed London store Liberty took the first collection. A year later, Fleur T launched in the iconic US department store Barneys in New York.
The brand was highly regarded, immediately becoming a firm favourite with fashion editors around the world. But in 2007, Fleur made a brave decision. “We relaunched in that year as Fleur of England. I’d had some time away, having a baby. That gave me some space to reflect on the future of the brand. We held a focus group and the new name was born. We felt Fleur of England better reflected the sense of luxury and prestige of our product. It worked in the international market we found ourselves in. And we haven’t looked back.”
In the last three years Fleur of England’s turnover has tripled, so it’s clear Fleur must be doing something right. What does she base this success on? Well it’s the product, of course. “Our product is exquisitely feminine and beautiful,” says Fleur. “I design all the embroideries myself – in fact, all the design is done in-house by my team and I. We manufacture in Portugal, so all production is in Europe. Our brand is high end and luxurious. It speaks for itself.”
As the CEO of a globally successful company, Fleur would be forgiven for handing over much of the design work to her team, but that’s not her style. “I love lingerie, always have and always will,” states Fleur. “I chose lingerie as my specialism because the fabrics called to me. It was the silks and the lace and the way you can make that fabric look on the female form. The female form is beautiful and luxurious lingerie celebrates that.”
If we were ever in doubt as to Fleur’s passion for design, it certainly shines through here. And it becomes clear that of course she can’t turn her back on the creative aspect of her business – quite simply, it’s in her blood. “I never run out of inspiration. I never run out of ideas. In fact, I’ll often have ideas for the seasons ahead of the one we’re currently designing for.”
So where does this inspiration come from? With more than 35 collections to her name, Fleur says she is inspired by everything around her. “Just walking down the street can inspire a concept. I take lots of photographs. When I see something that inspires me I’ll take a picture and put it on Instagram – it’s like a virtual notepad for me. I’m also hugely inspired by travel and the things around me. We were recently in Paris and the architecture and food prompted lots of ideas. Even just eating a Parisian chocolate mousse can be inspiring!”
With this many ideas, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Fleur can design pretty much anywhere. “Although I can design anywhere, my ideal design space is quiet, with some music playing in the background. I have a new room now where I design – it’s lovely because it’s peaceful. I start with a colour and then fabric. This will lead to a mood-board and then samples.”
The secret to any good design is the ability to spot when something is working and, if it’s not, being brave enough to start again. Something that Fleur is only too aware of. “When I’m designing I go to a special place in my head. If the design works, I just know. I get a feeling about it. If that feeling doesn’t come then I start again. It does happen sometimes.”
Fleur of England’s iconic Jasmine collection is a perfect example of that ‘feeling’. “When I was designing Jasmine, which is very bridal, I just knew it was going to be a success. I knew it was special because it was so different.”
With its delicate embroidery and beautiful fabrics, it’s clear to see why Jasmine is an obvious choice for brides. But on a day that’s all about the dress, does what you’re wearing underneath really matter? “It’s the one day where you can truly indulge yourself,” says Fleur. “Your lingerie has a profound effect on the way you feel. It can make you feel like a lady, feel elegant. This only comes from choosing something really special.”
We’re sold on the importance of beautiful lingerie on your wedding day. But with so many breathtakingly stunning collections to choose from, how do we know which design to go for? “My advice is to make sure you’re comfortable,” says Fleur. “You need to be comfortable if you’re going to sparkle all day. Choose something special, indulgent and comfortable. Now is not the time to go looking for bargains. Treat yourself and enjoy it.”
So were pleased to announce, one lucky reader has the chance to win the beautiful Amour silk and lace boudoir bra and bow tie brief set. For your chance to win, please answer the question below.
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Photography by Fleur of England
Words by Molly Forbes Tigerlily