New Zealand-born Sydney-based lingerie designer Kay Cohen has turned her obsession with sumptuous fabric into a business.

After 20 years of working with lingerie - six with New Zealand brand Bendon - the design graduate from Wellington Polytechnic launched her intimate apparel label Pleasure State in Australia two years ago.

"Pleasure State is about aligning lingerie styles with leading outerwear trends. It transposes the main influences from pret-a-porter and couture collections and infuses them into exquisite and exclusive lingerie creations," says Cohen, in Auckland to launch her range.

Pleasure State is now sold in 22 countries at more than 850 specialty boutiques and department stores, including Victoria's Secret in the United States, Galeries Lafayette in France, Wild Orchid in Russia and Selfridges in London. In New Zealand it is available at Farmers.

Describe in detail the first grown-up lingerie you ever owned.

My aunt came home one day with a pair of black satin knickers for me. I was so thrilled to be treated like a woman - I was 12 years old but looked more like 9. My mother was not really into lingerie; she was more the comfy undies type whereas my aunt was all about fashion. Maybe this was the beginning of everything.

What is your favourite piece of underwear?

I love my Pleasure State matching bra and brief sets. I prefer a tailored design to a frilly or lacy style but I am lucky, I have a huge lingerie wardrobe and I'm able to wear any lingerie as my mood takes me.

What underwear works best under a tight pair of jeans?

A thong [G-string] and one that is not too tight in the waist. Women are quite soft over the hips and it does not look good if the G-string creates a bulge.

What are the basics every girl needs in her underwear drawer?

Something that suits you and makes you feel and look sexy - it's all about feeling good about yourself. Then I would go for something that you feel comfortable in, especially while at work. This should be something that is pretty and functions well under your clothes. If you are sporty, the next must-have is something to wear while working out. I usually have a brief and a thong for every bra, as I like to wear thongs under trousers and briefs or boylegs under skirts. And don't forget to have some yummy accessories, such as beautiful camis that you can wear as outerwear, a pretty chemise or slip for sleeping in or cute cami-knicker sets. Right now wearing a corset or basque as outerwear is a really interesting way to make your wardrobe exciting.

What is your idea of the perfect bra?

This will depend on your body type, but I think it is all about shape and comfort. Find a bra that gives you the shape that you like the most. You have the perfect bra if you have those two factors combined with one that is fashionable and sexy to look at, too.

Are you a G-string kind of girl, or do you prefer the comfort of nana pants?

G-strings, as I wear mostly jeans and trousers. I like sexy little low-cut bikini briefs and boyleg culotte style shorts for under dresses and skirts, but never nana pants.

What is your favourite colour when it comes to underwear?

Black. I find it elegant, sexy and it can look really opulent if it is in satin and lace or dressed up with crystals.

Have your ever done a Madonna and worn underwear as outerwear?

I was probably one of the first. I love the idea that lingerie can be worn as a beautiful garment in its own right. So much of fashion today is influenced by lingerie styling - it is no secret that the lingerie department is a good place to shop to dress up an outfit. When I started Pleasure State I made this a core part of our thinking and today our accessories (camis, tops, corsets) sell extremely well for us.