When lipstick guru Poppy King invited us into her office prior to her new brand launch, our interest was piqued. King is the creative behind many cult-favorite lipsticks, and though this isn’t her first venture, it’s the first time she’s striking out on her own. Called Femme de Poppy, the new brand is inspired by powerful female figures and has thoughtful concepts behind each shade. “In my career, I realized very quickly that I wanted to do this for myself, and there’s a level of nuance I’ve come to know,” she reflects. “I love lipstick for its transformative power on both the inner and outer self-perception.”
In that mind-set, King worked on three bespoke shades that all have unique formulas, textures, and effects. Once applied to the lips, the product works with the wearer’s body heat to transform into a customized version of a matte. There’s Eve, which King refers to as snakeskin red; Emperor’s Nude, a sheer peach with gold shimmer; and Lip En Rose, a bold yet moisturizing pink. Inside their fragrance-like packaging, the three shades all speak to interesting concepts meticulously curated by King. “I like to think of the entire experience of a lipstick—from how you put it on to how it wears down to how it makes you feel. The mind is where the beauty lies.”
Inspiration for Eve came from the Biblical tale, and King was wearing the deep crimson herself. “It has an iridescent finish that molds to the lips,” she says. Then there’s the cheeky see-through matte Emperor’s Nude, which King says is a comment on the gaucheness of current times. The pink shade, Lip En Rose, came to her from the French phrase la vie en rose, and she says, “It’s the idea of speaking to the world through rose-colored lips because what you say really matters as much as what you do or what you look like.”
In terms of finding the perfect shades, King has a full creative process. “I’ll think, What are the building factors behind the concept? For Eve, there’s the apple, the snake, the ‘bad girl’ attitude, and then I’ll go through my books to zero in on a color.” She also points out a color-mixing guide on her desk and utilizes it to find the right direction to take with the chemist. From the lab, she then narrows down the perfect formula and innovative effects.
As a collector of 20th-century artifacts, King’s desk was lined with books and lipstick-shaped trinkets, manifesting her passion for lipstick as a medium quite clearly. She’ll often visit neighborhood bookstores and favorite vintage shops for inspiration to guide her designs.
The three shades are the first to launch for Femme de Poppy, but there’s plenty more up King’s creative sleeves. She plans to roll out more limited-edition lipsticks and collections soon, which are all exclusive to Barneys New York. Discover the unique lipsticks, and try them for yourself by shopping Barneys.com.
Join us at the Madison Avenue store to meet Poppy King and experience lipstick fortune-telling. The event will take place March 6–8 from 12 to 2 p.m and 5 to 7 p.m and then March 9 and 10 from 12 to 3 p.m.