Nazanin Mandi has, in her 34 years, been many things: A singer who graced the stage of Carnegie Hall by 15. An actress. A life coach. A model who walked in the second Savage x Fenty show, in 2020. An Instagram phenomenon with 1.6 million followers. The wife of Grammy-winning artist Miguel. And now, a lingerie designer. The multi-hyphenate launched on Friday Elle Reve, a small edit of multi-functional items that are sold on the brand’s e-commerce site and range from $22-$182. Below, Mandi discusses how she moved from lingerie model to lingerie designer, why she’s prioritizing inclusive sizing and what’s to come from her new brand.
You walked in the Savage x Fenty show; how did that impact your career?
It was amazing. From that came other opportunities. But it was the most impactful on me personally. It gave me the sort of confidence that I needed to take everything to the next level. Even on the day of the show, I was feeling, obviously, so nervous, and things were so different [than the first show] because of Covid. And now, watching it back — it’s on Amazon — you would never know how nervous I was. It instilled a certain confidence: “Trust yourself in that moment, just go for it.” And I did go for it. But there was that like, underlying, like, “Oh, gosh. I hope this comes out amazing. I just really hope I’m doing my best.”
Even before walking in that show, you started working on Elle Reve, in 2018. What attracted you to the lingerie category?
I’ve always loved lingerie, probably even before I was supposed to love lingerie. I started designing the collection in 2018. It was a very natural transition from swimwear, which is what I did before. I had designed for a company called Chynna Dolls — I did three collections with them, and I left because I wanted to start my own company. They were amazing. And I knew that I could handle starting my own thing.
And then I was really thinking about it and was like, “You know what? Let me try my hand in lingerie,” and that’s how it started. My love has always been there. I’ve always been intrigued by it. It makes women feel so confident and sexy. Lingerie can totally change the mood, it’s so powerful.
Had you ever designed before Chynna Dolls?
No, I never had. I actually was a fan of the brand for many years. They’re based in Orange County. And so, I would just wear their suits. And I don’t remember how I met the owner, but she and I totally hit it off. And she reached out one day and was like, “Hey, have you ever thought about designing a small collection for us?” And so, I got to see the process of production and designing. I learned so much. It was priceless.
Without that, would you have still felt able to launch a company of your own?
I think, eventually. I’m a go-getter, so I will always figure it out.
How do you feel the lingerie industry is changing?
Since Instagram started, lingerie has really transformed — and thank God it has. It’s obviously become more inclusive. You see a lot more women of different sizes and shapes wearing lingerie and wearing it proudly. That’s very, very important. Growing up, it was a lot of the same body size. And now it’s starting to transform, and it’s just beautiful to watch.
Elle Reve has an inclusive size range. Why was that important to you?
It will always be important to me, because I want every kind of woman to be able to wear my pieces and to wear them comfortably and proudly. I don’t want to exclude anybody. That’s not who I am. That’s not what I represent. Making the sizes what they are, I will continue to do that.
Do you plan to expand the sizes even more?
Absolutely, especially with the second and third collections.
Tell me more about the collection — the process of creating it, your favorite item.
My favorite product is the most luxurious product: It’s a 100% silk leopard-print robe called the Nadia Robe. I’m obsessed with animal prints. It’s reversible, and the red is a custom shade of red. It’s a piece that I know I will wear forever. Another focus of mine was making my pieces multifunctional. So for a girl that doesn’t normally wear lingerie, these are pieces that you can incorporate into your everyday look, so you get the most out of it.
What’s next for the brand?
I can say that the next collections are a bit more fun and flirty, because it’s summer. My goal is most definitely to expand the brand. I would love to expand it to the point where I’m designing activewear and swimwear. Those are all categories that I love and that I wear all the time.