Written By , on August 2, 2008

Sonia Pereira Murphy interviews “lip-erneur”, Poppy King.

Poppy King is what Simon Doonan would describe as a Wacky Chick. At the tender age of 18, Ms. King decided someone needed to fill the cosmetic void where matte lipstick should be, so she started her own company, Poppy Industries. Pretty soon the glamorous retro-inspired lipsticks were all the rage and Poppy found herself as famous as Cherries in the Snow (one of Revlon’s 1st red lipsticks from the 1950’s). She now has a well-received new lipstick line, “Lipstick Queen,” which offers both glossy and matte lipsticks and has recently written a book all about her travails in the business world.

Poppy King

Sonia Pereira Murphy (SPM): When did you first start your love affair with lipstick? What did you like about it? What sets lipstick apart from other make-up in terms of what it can do for a woman’s “look”?

Poppy King (PK): When I was seven years-old and I played dress up with my mom’s lipsticks. I immediately felt transformed into a world of glamour and sophistication…like a super hero. Lipstick is the most iconic of all female cosmetics…nothing says female like lipstick. It connects women to an ancient ritual which defines our gender. It is a very powerful product.

SPM: Your new line, Lipstick Queen, is divided into Saints and Sinners. Who in history best exemplifies (in your opinion) the quintessential Saint wearer/Sinner wearer?

PK: SINNER – would have to be Louise Brooks
SAINT – Ophelia (from Shakespeare)

SPM: What do you find so captivating about matte? Why are there so few matte options today when in the past it was really all the rage?

PK: I love the depth of pigment in matte lipstick, the fullness of the product and the strong statement it makes. My idea of matte is not dry but moist and still full of pigment. I think that people today obsess with technological developments and sometimes discard great things from the past (like matte lipstick) because it doesn’t seem advanced enough.

SPM: Do you think retro glamour is making a comeback for good?
PK: I think dignity is making a comeback after years of “stars behaving badly”. Dignity is often associated with retro glamour. I think these days there is no one trend that prevails, it is more about different options and the retro glam option is becoming more prominent.

SPM: How did you choose Aubrey Beardsley’s art for your packaging?

PK: I love the foreboding beauty of Beardsley. It has the same dichotomy as a poppy flower. There is an innocent side and a dark side. Like all of us.

SPM: Which of your lipsticks do you wear every day?

PK: I am the direct opposite of the majority of women. My go to, everyday shade is Red Sinner. I wear red lipstick like chapstick. I slick it on with no make up and go.

SPM: How do you suggest wearing red lipstick to the office or (in my case) playground without looking too “done” ?

PK: I hinted to the secret to red lipstick above…wear it with minimal eye make up. It doesn’t have to be none like I do. Just the least amount you are comfortable with. Red looks chic and casual that way.

SPM: What led you to write Lessons of a Lipstick Queen, a book about what you’ve learned in the business world?

PK: I have been asked hundreds maybe thousands of times over the years how I managed to start my own lipstick brand at 18 years of age with no head start of training or funding. So I broke my story down into steps for the reader to follow so that they could apply it to their own ideas.

SPM: You have quite a sense of style. Have you ever thought of starting a fashion line? (I know you love bags!)

PK: Thank you for the compliment. The only fashion item I would consider designing (other than hand bags because they are a huge collection of mine) would be sweaters. I really get frustrated with the sweaters out there and think there could be a glam/chic collection to fill that need.

SPM: If you could personally apply your lipstick on anyone, living or dead, famous or not, who would it be? And what color?

PK: Eva Peron (Evita). Of course, I would apply Red Sinner!