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ARTIST PROFILE:

poppy
king

The lipstick connoisseur explains the inspiration behind her collection.

Written By JAYME CYK

POPPY KING / PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE VIOLET GREY FLAGSHIP STORE

ARTIST STATS

Name: Poppy King

Known For: Lipstick Queen, her edited collection of lipsticks

Where to Find Her: New York City

Years in the Industry: 25

Instagram: @lipstickqueenofficial

Beauty Essential: Lipstick Queen Sinner Lipstick in Red

Poppy King started her love affair with lipstick at the tender age of seven. As a child in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1970s, the Lipstick Queen founder stole her mother’s Biba lipsticks while playing dress-up. “I was totally mesmerized after I first applied it,” remembers King. “Suddenly I felt like a superhero who was capable of doing anything.”

During high school in the late 1980s, however, King struggled to find the perfect shade. The trends of the day were all about frosted pinks and corals, which didn’t suit her style (she favored opaque reds, browns, and burgundies). So in 1992, she launched Poppy, a lipstick collection consisting of matte shades inspired by 1940s Hollywood. Her unparalleled color selection and cool, hard-to-get shades quickly made the brand a cult obsession. King helmed Poppy for 10 years before moving to New York to work at Estée Lauder, until again she felt the itch to be her own lipstick boss. In 2006, her new brand, Lipstick Queen, was born. The collection launched with a range called Saint and Sinner, which consists of 10 shades offered in two finishes, sheer (Saint) and matte (Sinner). From this humble initial offering, the brand has evolved into a collection of 135 products. “I like to say that Lipstick Queen is a state of mind,” King explains. “To be a lipstick queen is not about wearing red lipstick, but being ready to take on the world.”

The biggest mistake women make when it comes to lipstick is thinking that it takes confidence to wear it, but it is lipstick that gives you confidence.

— POPPY KING

From King’s experience of suggesting lipstick shades to clients she discovered a real connection between a woman’s personality and the way she holds her mouth. This led to her “reading” lips—the way a fortune teller reads a palm—and suggesting the perfect shade for each woman’s unique pout (and persona). “I’m not a makeup artist; I’m more of a stylist,” explains King. “In the past when I was recommending colors, I wasn’t just suggesting it for their style—I was assessing the person. Vivienne Westwood once said, ‘When you dress up, interesting things happen to you.’ And I think when you wear lipstick, the same is true.”

violet
inquires

Poppy King on equine therapy, her vast handbag collection, and the importance of eye contact.

NEVER-FAIL TOOL

Red Sinner lipstick. If I’m feeling a little drab, I dab a bit of lipstick on my cheeks. That always makes for an instant pick-me-up.

DRUGSTORE DISCOVERY

I love Almay for its simplicity. The two products I always use are Oil Free Makeup Eraser Sticks and Smart Shade Anti-Aging Skintone Matching Makeup

NECESSARY INDULGENCE

Starting lipstick companies. Second to that is handbags. I have about 300 that I have been collecting for more than 25 years. And they range from touristy tote bags from Paris to Celine. But my favorite is probably from Alaïa.

ANTI-AGING STRATEGY

Sunblock. I use the mineral sunscreen from Nia 24.

CAN’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT

Red lipstick.

MANICURIST

I like going to Valley Nails in New York. They are very creative and have a bit of a rock-and-roll approach to their manicures.

COLORIST

I style my own hair, but I always go to Bryan Thompson Dipalma at Mauricio Hair Studio for my color. I’ve been seeing him for 13 years.

FLORIST

I love Belle Fleur in New York. I think they do beautiful arrangements that are really sculptural, but still extremely romantic.

Be with
someone who RUINS your LIPSTICK not your mascara.
– Poppy King

PLAN B

I had a fleeting idea that I was going to be an architect because, like every teenager, I read The Fountainhead. I was going to be Howard Roark, the novel’s protagonist.

DO YOU SEE THE PERFUME BOTTLE AS HALF-EMPTY OR HALF-FULL?

I definitely see it half-full. It is much more constructive to view it that way.

FAVORITE SPA

I recently went to the Miraval Spa and did equine therapy. It’s unbelievable! You’re not riding the horse, but you do all these exercises with them. One of the things you do is clean their horseshoes because horses are really hesitant to lift their legs. They have to believe that you mean it. It’s about getting in touch with yourself and setting an intention.

PREFERRED VACATION DESTINATION

Tulum. What’s not to love? It’s beautiful. I love the food and the atmosphere. It’s my dream to stay at Jashita Tulum because it looks like heaven.

HEALTH & WELLNESS REGIMEN

Meditation is something I try to do most mornings. I don’t follow an app, but I tend to think of something that I wish I could say to myself to alleviate a specific worry I might have that day. It helps me to reset.

WHAT’S THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE WHEN MEETING SOMEONE? 

It’s actually not lipstick! The first thing I notice is their eye contact.

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A foolproof guide to all things lips.