Lucy Guinness of Poplin
It was such a treat to come across the gorgeous Poplin pajamas in British Vogue. I had to learn more about the brand and the fantastic founder, Lucy Guinness. I knew for one to design such fabulous silk pj’s, they had to be an equally amazing individual. She began her career living in Bombay, India as a freelance writer for Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller, and The Wall Street Journal. I hope you love learning more about Lucy, her travels, inspiration, and company.
N/S: Did you always know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
Lucy: I’ve always adored clothes and had a very particular and personal idea of how I like to dress. When I was 3, I was pretty much permanently dressed as a gypsy with a headscarf, armfuls of bangles and the biggest earrings I could get my hands on sellotaped to my ears! Being a designer was always a fantasy I held in my mind, but I was obsessed with ballet and wanted to be a ballerina and then very academic at school which meant that I was encouraged to think along different lines. I remember my school having to make a special exception so that I could take Latin and Art- as if the two were in opposition.
N/S: How did Poplin come to be? How did you come up with the name Poplin?
Lucy: I was living in Bombay, India and working as a freelance writer, contributing to Vogue, Conde Nast Traveller, Wall Street Journal... Writing at home, I wasn’t exactly going to get trussed up in a pencil skirt and blazer but I didn’t want to feel like a slob either and coveted classic, chic pyjamas for myself. It was actually really hard to find sophisticated, comfortable loungewear so I started sampling pieces for myself and the idea for POPLIN grew from there…
I’m addicted to notebooks and scribbled the name in one of them. It’s an old word that has come to mean a sort of cotton. There’s something in the sound of the word that I find comforting and familiar. And of course it’s nice that POPLIN Pyjamas is alliterative.
N/S: When did you launch your company?
Lucy: Christmas 2011
N/S: What has been the greatest obstacle of operating your own company (thus far)?
Lucy: Unless you have a lot of upfront investment, when you start your own company you have to be a Jack of All Trades and of course some skills come more naturally than others. Wearing so many hats at once is difficult and inevitably leads to A LOT of decision-making which scientists have proven is incredibly exhausting. In a way, POPLIN is a very straightforward company and idea- we just want to produce perfect pyjamas, but there are intangible aspects to a brand which it can be challenging to hold onto while moving forward and being open to the opportunities that come along.
N/S: The greatest reward?
Lucy: Individual customers who write to me telling me how much they love wearing their POPLIN pyjamas. And then want to buy more!
N/S: How would you describe Poplin in three words?
* (Substitute English for Eccentric if you happen to be American and wear your Iris Classic PJs to the office!)
N/S: Who wears Poplin??
Lucy: Women with an eye for quality and beautiful design who don’t want to substitute comfort for style. They’re not defined by age but I think they share a sense of perspective- the sort of stylish woman who would prefer to spend the evening cooking supper for her best friends at home in her POPLIN silk PJs, than teetering out to a club in a pair of uncomfortable stilettos.
N/S: Who or what inspires your designs?
Lucy: As you can tell from the names of the different POPLIN styles, I’m definitely inspired by old movie stars- Bardot‘s dishevelled sex appeal, or Marlene Dietrich‘s chic androgyny. But inspiration comes from lots of different places. On my moodboard right now is a black and white photograph from the 1930s of a man in his silk dressing gown, some chambray fabric I found in India, lots of images of minimal yet warm interiors… Interiors distill a particular mood and that’s something I find particularly inspiring.
N/S: Who are your own style icons? How would you describe your own personal style?
Lucy: I don’t really have style icons because often I really admire other people’s style without wanting to emulate it myself. Margherita Missoni, for instance, seems to have a lot of fun with how she dresses but we have completely different colouring and different lifestyles so her style wouldn’t work for me.
I also really admire the way Lucinda Chambers, Fashion Director at British Vogue, dresses. Like me, I think, her personal style is built around comfort and even if she’s wearing quite simple pieces there’s always a little bit of an edge or an element that’s slightly unexpected. I love chic, classic clothes but I only feel myself when they’re mixed with something a little playful or unusual.
N/S: What will you be wearing this winter?
Lucy: I bought a pair of navy twill dungarees in the summer which I’ve been wearing a lot with a black and white polka dot printed silk POPLIN PJ shirt (available soon online).
One of POPLIN’s favourite stockists is Ave 32
and I recently discovered a faux fur brand called Ainea
through them. I splashed out on this coat
and wear it whenever I want to feel chic (and warm!)
For getting dressed up, I always wear very chunky platforms with old favourite Suno, Topshop Unique and Isabel Marant floaty dresses.
N/S: Which Poplin pieces would you suggest as gifts right now?
N/S: What’s on your nightstand right now?
Lucy: A Diptyque candle in Figuier scent
, a silver photo frame given by a friend as a wedding present with a picture of my cheeky little flowergirls and page boys looking very naughty on our wedding day and a book about puppy training
- we are about to get our first puppy.
N/S: Where’s your favorite place in the world you travel?
Lucy: That’s an impossible question to answer. This summer I went to Greece on my honeymoon and completely fell in love, especially with the area around Spetses. I have been dreaming about going back. But now I feel disloyal to India which is very special to me!
N/S: What’s one piece of advice or a quote or motto you live by?
Lucy: If I find myself getting too stressed I think “life is long”, which somehow reminds me to keep things in perspective.
N/S: What are a few things you absolutely couldn’t live without!
(and since I’m based in London- getting away to the sunshine from time to time!).
Shop POPLIN online here and follow them on Facebook here.