Meet the Maker: Catherine Fritsch of Rue Violet

This lingerie designer has a few secrets of her own.

Get ready to Meet the Makers … of the coolest fashion and home goods in town, that is. In this occasional series, we take you into the workshops of the creators behind that stuff you’ve been coveting.

Clothing designer Catherine Fritsch, 41, has you covered underneath with her comfortable but sexy lingerie line Rue Violet. Based in Noblesville, Fritsch’s line ranges from sheer negligees to custom corsets.

How did you get into the lingerie business?
I started out in costume and costume design and technology and got my degree in costume and design from Indiana University Bloomington. There wasn’t much to do with that besides pattern-making, so I started my own business in 2007. My first clients were high-end plus-size lingerie and maternity and nursing lingerie, so that’s how I started in the business.

How did you choose the name Rue Violet?
It’s such a global economy now, so when you pick a name, you think, “Oh, no one will have this,” and then it’s (being used) in Canada. I was trying to rebrand after quickly picking the name “Sweet Revenge,” and wanted something with the same flavor. My products are very youthful, and I wanted to convey something that had sweetness, but was also hard and edgy. I started combining different words, mostly flower names, and came up with Rue Violet. They’re both flowers, but “rue” also means regret and is a poison, too, so it had that double meaning to match my products.

What’s your best-selling design?
Right now, probably because of Valentine’s Day, my bestseller is a garter belt (on sale for $13.25) in super-stretch fabric. It comes in marine blue, hot pink, polka dots, and cheetah print. They’re made-to-order, so I do sizes XS-XL, but if someone wanted 2X, I could do that, too. I’ve sold a bunch.

Where do you sell your products?
I’m just online right now. As independent boutiques come around to local fashion, I’ll start to pursue that. People tend to say, “Fashion in Indianapolis doesn’t exist, I don’t want it, it’s not cool,” but that’s starting to come around. My friends [in the design community] and I are trying to start to change that. The artisan scene is definitely growing, like with Homespun moving into a much bigger and more expensive space, and the shop local and Pattern Indy movements.

Where do you get your inspiration for designs?
I still work with other businesses with product development and design, so I draw inspiration from what I’m working on for them. You can tell if I’ve been doing sports apparel for another company, because my lingerie will be very sporty, too. Things around me, like what people are wearing on the street, as well as colors and architecture, also inspire me.

How do you describe your own style?
I’m pretty eclectic. Since I’m working a lot, everyday dress is all about comfort, like house slippers, jeans, a T-shirt. For events, it depends on my mood. I think coming from a costume background, where you’re designing to send a message to the audience, I tend to dress to target the certain people I’m around at an event.

Where do you shop?
I shop a lot locally. When I go to the mall, it tends to be overwhelming. Since I own my own business, it’s a lot of economy shopping, so I like T.J. Maxx and Kohl’s. I also love thrifting, where I can search and find a piece I really like in all the garbage. I also like vintage, but it’s harder to find things that fit, as I grow older.

Your house is on fire. What pieces of clothing do you run in to save?
I have some things I made for my first fashion show that I’d save. They’re military-inspired fall separates made from woolens and linens. I love natural fibers. There’s a military jacket, and asymmetrical design in lots of olive drab green, tans, and rich browns. It’s very textural.