LipserviceAugust 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.
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!
Interview: Thomas VoornJuly 1, 2008
Considering the now ubiquitous trend of disposable fashion where all that seems to matter is a cute factor, Thomas Voorn’s intellectual take on clothing is not only refreshing, but enlightening. Voorn’s fascination with clothing calls to mind an anthropologist intrigued with skeletal remains, a sociologist swept up by human behavior, and an artist in love with his jolie laide muse. In other words, his passion for clothing involves more than love for color and fabric. Rather, it includes the love for humanity in all its absurdity as well.
Sonia Pereira Murphy (SPM):I notice that you have an extensive educational background in fashion and fine art. When did you start showing an interest in fashion?
Thomas Voorn (TV): When I studied conceptual art (mixed media) at AKI Art & Design Academy in Holland in the mid-’90′s, I started to work with fabric; buying on purpose fabrics that I found really ugly and trying to make beautiful things out of these ugly fabrics. While I was working with these fabrics I discovered I started to love them, not only to work with them, but also their ugly prints and colors. Then I discovered how fascinating fashion can be. I find it interesting that fashion is an area where everyone has an opinion about; everyone wears clothes and at least has something to say about it. During my studies at the AKI in Holland I combined fashion and fine art in my work. For example, I embroidered clothes on projected half-naked people, dressing them in a ‘new way.’ In my final year, I decided to graduate at the fashion department and applied at Saint Martin’s in London to fully study Fashion Design. And to be honest when I was 11 years old I already started to make a wedding dress out of an old white bed sheet with a tire from a bike for volume at the hem, etc. Fitting this dress on a little friend of mine to make the shape right and I made a little bikini tops & bottoms out of a white cotton vest.
SPM:I love that you did that as a little kid! You state that you have a “fascination for the language and identity of clothes.” Can you elaborate on this?
TV: I find clothes and “dressing behavior” really interesting as part of (non-verbal) communication. We say so much with what we wear. I am very interested in the ‘identity’ of clothes and stereotypical associations that garments, colors and prints (but also cut and detailing) can evoke. A shirt, for example, gets such a different ‘identity’ if you only change the collar of it. I like to contradict these ‘associations at first glance.’
SPM:Your recent lines of menswear feature bright floral pastels… what’s your inspiration? You also call a line “Coming Home.” Is this a reference to your own personal background?
TV: In the fashion series Coming Home I am searching for a contemporary clash and match in which the pictures are ‘the work,’ not the clothes; they are just a tool. After having done sales and London off-schedule collection presentations during the OsvoMode period, I decided to sell my services rather then my products. The autonomous work like the ‘Coming Home Series’ I make is a showcase of my style and abilities for these design & styling services.
In 2006 we decided, after making 7 collections, to stop our high fashion label OsvoMode. It is difficult to make enough money as an independent young design label, even if you have stockists and a sales agent in Japan, as we did.When I retreated into my studio for one year in (January) 2007 to make new work and bread on what I would do next, I decided that my new brand should be a visualization of myself and started to take my own dressing behavior as starting point for new work. That also meant that I would do more for men’s fashion. I always wear quite colorful clothes myself, and have always had a fascination for prints and colors. So that is how my menswear series ‘coming-home’ started. And it did feel like coming home!
In the ongoing ‘coming home series’ I focus on my search for a contemporary clash and match in color and print on a ‘small scale’. I use the traditional ‘mug shot’ to let the color and print combination take over the picture rather than the garment being the most important in the image. Placing mainly traditional feminine floral prints, and mixing these with other colors and prints to create a new fashionable sense of masculinity. Exploring the boundaries of taste and beauty – masculinity and femininity – slick and home made imagery.
SPM:Many of the shirts also feature a 60′s vibe that borders on mod. Does music or fashion from the past influence your work?
TV:In my work I am always looking to make a fashion statement, but use an autonomous way of working and thinking about fashion, clothes and dressing-behavior to create imagery. My main influences are people on the streets that are not aware of what they are wearing and communicating with their clothes. Fascinating.And I have a fetish for colors and prints. I only have to go to a fabric store to get inspired.
SPM:How did you meet Jeanette and start OsvoMode?
TV:During our studies, fashion design womenswear, at Central Saint Martins in London, we did one collection together in our 2nd year. After our graduation we decided to start our own idealistic fashion label based on our vision of fashion: to challenge what contemporary beauty is in High Fashion and to make fashion more ethical by using organic fabrics for high fashion designs (this was in 2002, so before the whole organic fashion trend started!).
SPM:Osvomode’s mission states you prefer to make clothes you “have to get used to.”How much is challenging standards of beauty a part of your designing process?
TV:I’ve been pushing the boundaries of contemporary fashion aesthetics in my work for quite a few years. I enjoy trying to expand the idea of what contemporary fashion can be and exploring what could be entitled as ‘a new sense of beauty.’ While I was studying fashion ten years ago I worked with fabric combinations that were ‘unusual.’ I was looking for a friction between colors and prints to make one question what represents beauty or not. I explored how you can apply color and print in an outfit and how you can play with them proportion-wise to balance on the edge. In the collections of the high fashion label OsvoMode (2002/2003-2006), which I founded with Jeanette Osterried, we worked from the concept that our designs did not have to represent beauty at first glance. Designing garments that you might have to get used to in time. Exploring where beauty ends and ugliness begins and in that way extending the way one can perceive beauty in the fashion industry. In contrast to for example music where we are much more used to listening to an album a few times before actually appreciating it, we applied this thought on fashion collections.
SPM:While your own label showcases menswear that might be deemed feminine, OsvoMode carries some masculine-influenced women’s pieces. Do you enjoy toying with androgyny or gender in your work?
SPM:The OsvoMode wear is also markedly different from your men’s wear in regard to color. Were the new florals a reaction to OsvoMode’s solids and muted shades?
TV:During my studies I already worked a lot with colors and prints. With OsvoMode we were limited because there were not yet a lot of different fabrics / colors in organic quality. If you look at the OsvoMode S/S ‘04 collection, we still used quite some colorful/printed synthetics, but later on we wanted to go more organic with very little choice in colorful fabrics.
SPM:What would you say to a potential male client who’s attracted to one of your floral shirts but is afraid he can’t pull it off?
TV:Combined with simple grey or white jeans, a guy can pull it off anytime.
At the moment the clothes are not for sale. (Unless there is a HUGE order coming in!) But my styling & design services are for sale, just go to my website, www.thomasvoorn.com, and place a booking under ‘bookings and enquiries’. (Mr. Voorn supplies his services to companies only and not to private individuals.)
SPM:Osvomode also features avant-garde pieces with draping and raw edges. Do you see your own line moving in that direction? Where does Thomas Voorn seem to be heading in the future?
TV: Continue making my own work, exhibiting, publishing, and continuing my freelance projects in design, styling/art direction and consultancy for fashion companies, fashion magazines, advertising agencies, film and theatre. And when I feel it is right to do raw edges and drapes again …I definitely will.
For more on Thomas Voorn please visit: T H O M A S V O O R N . C O M
Alicia Estrada of Stop Staring!June 2, 2008
Vintage-inspired clothing has long been leaking its way into mainstream fashion. Exemplified by such glamour pusses as Dita Von Teese, this pin-up Old Hollywood type of chic oozes sex appeal and elegance. For years one label, Stop Staring!, has been at the forefront of this retro-tinged trend and as a result, has been embraced by rockabilly girls and trendy celebs all over the world. I asked Stop Staring! founder and designer, Alicia Estrada, some questions about her interest in vintage clothing and in where Stop Staring! is soon to be heading.
How didyou start designing?
I started sewing when I was 17 years old. I love to sew and design dresses. Loving what you do is the secret to success!
What’s your earliest designing memory?
Making a 1960s inspired miniskirt out of a plastic shower curtain, and then painting "Stop Staring!" across the back of the skirt. It was the biggest hit
and everyone wanted one.
Fun! When did you do this and what inspired you to?
Back in my college days, what inspired me was just dressing hip and cool and trying to wear something completely different then the norm of the time. I was really
into the punk scene at the time, and loved to mix punk with retro 60s. I wanted to look punk, but sexy and feminine at the same time.
So, how and why did you get into the retro scene?
In college I made my own wardrobe inspired by 1960’s mod looks, then later I started to design 50’s inspired dresses. Now I’m designing 1940’s inspired dresses. It really has been a natural progression, nothing planned. I have always wanted to look different. So when people started to wear 60’s retro, then I just naturally changed by wearing 50’s retro.
I can’t imagine you in 60s retro. It seems so different from 50’s and 40’s… what did you like about the 60’s pieces?
The retro 60’s style was very sexy, tight, and short, it was very young and very mod. Think miniskirts, leopard cigarette pants, and sexy doll dresses. The 1950’s are very sexy too, only it is very classy and conservative. With age, I just naturally started to dress more conservative and demure. Again, as the retro 60’s became more of a mainstream thing, I just moved onto something different. As a designer, I get bored really easy, so I just have to keep on reinventing
Why do you think people are so drawn to retro lately?
Because it is so classic and timeless. It is a reminder of the innocent times of yesteryear. It was a time of ultra glamour and timeless beauty.
Does anyone in the music/film industry influence you?
Yes of course! When Paris Hilton wore my dresses on her European tour, the demand for my sexy bombshell dresses went through the roof! So it really pushed me in the direction of sexy cocktail dresses. Of course when I started designing 50’s retro, I was really into the rockabilly scene. Exene from X wears my dresses on stage. Now that’s cool. I grew up listening to X.
I love X! And Exene is one of the most fashionable women ever! That must have been amazing! Are there any current musicians you’d like dress?
Yes, I would love to see Gwen Stefani in Stop Staring! I met Gwen at Cal State Fullerton. We both attended at the same time! I actually saw No Doubt play before they became famous. Gwen actually wrote a song called "Stop Staring!". I wonder if she wrote this about me? I was actually wearing skirts with
"Stop Staring!" splattered across the back. I used to get so much attention during my Cal State days. People loved Stop Staring!
How do you explain the fierce brand loyalty of your fans?
Stop Staring! dresses are so classy, timeless, and sexy. Girls just love the comfort and ease of an incredible fit, and of course all the positive attention. Stop Staring!
is known to turn heads. Stop Staring! is known for beautiful dresses with a great fit.
Do you like designing dress or separates best?
Dresses of course. They are so easy to wear and no fuss about coordinating separates, especially when you are in a hurry. These days everyone is in a hurry.
Have you thought of expanding to shoes and accessories?
Yes, this is in the works.
Could you tell me anything else about your expansion? Or is this top secret?
Yes, we have dabbled into purses, and so far they are making a big splash. Shoes are definitely next in line. We have such an overwhelming demand for the Stop Staring! branded shoes. It’s just a matter of time before we actually launch this!
Visit Stop Staring! online at www.stopstaringclothing.com