Culture / People

Poppy Lissiman on her Tokyo home, vintage wares and collab with Dame Zandra Rhodes

poppy lissiman apartment

Travel is on the mind this time of year, and one person who has visited most corners of the earth – for both pleasure and business – is eyewear and accessories designer Poppy Lissiman. After starting her brand 15 years ago in Perth, she’s lived in several big cities on any traveller’s bucket list, currently residing in Tokyo with a hefty collection of the pieces you've likely 'hearted' on your favourite second-hand platform at some point. Her apartment – a stone’s throw from some of the best flagship stores in the world – was the meeting place for our conversation, which centred around her favourite wears, wares and where she focuses her energy in a constantly evolving business and marketplace.



It appears you're creating somewhat of an archive with the incredible pieces you have collected in your various closets. How have your style and interests changed over the years with so much travel, and living in numerous global cities?

I’ve always liked vintage clothing, but the older I get, the more I’ve become obsessed with hunting down those special archive pieces. Nothing brings me more joy than whipping out a piece from 20-30 years ago that still packs a punch or brings back memories of that time. I dress for comfort 99 per cent of the time and I don’t do any ironing, so I gravitate to items that pack down or travel well. I can’t be trusted wearing white because I will always spill something on it, most of my wardrobe is black or heavily printed so you can’t see the red wine stains.


What is your current favourite piece in your wardrobe? Where did you pick it up?

Currently, my favourite piece is a yellow screen-printed Prada Fall 2005 coat that I bought a few weeks ago on The RealReal.



How has life in Tokyo influenced your personal style? Who are your favourite designers (in fashion and otherwise) in the region?

Style is very considered here, which I love. It inspires you to make more of an effort, whether it’s an absolutely outrageous outfit or something super simple. It’s not uncommon to see that every minute detail has been thought over in a way that you don’t see anywhere else.

I have always loved COMME des GARÇONS and Issey Miyake, so I cannot tell you how good it is being able to shop these brands locally. I’m also a big fan of Toga Archives – in-particular their Toga Pulla shoes – of which I have several pairs.

Japan is the third largest economy in the world, which is something I didn’t realise until moving here. So many brands do entire Japan-exclusive ranges every season, which are so different to anything else they normally make. It’s amazing.


What has been the biggest hurdle in getting Poppy Lissiman to where it is as a brand today? Where do you currently focus most of your energy in the business?

I feel like the hurdles have changed every few years. At the moment, it’s navigating the changing landscape of social media and how people shop. For 10 years, we were focussed on creating a community on Instagram and making beautiful, static imagery. Now it’s all about videos and building a new community on TikTok. It’s a lot of work but I’m very lucky to have a very digitally savvy team who get it.

Personally, my energy in the business is quite spread out, but ultimately I’d like to be focused on creative direction. I still do a lot of everything; designing makes up probably the smallest percentage. Mostly it's marketing, production management, website, and social media stuff… the list goes on. I was still personally replying to customer emails up until 2021.



You have collaborated with some incredible artists in the past, including John Prince Siddon and Hassan Hajjaj. You've just launched another exciting collaboration – can you tell us about that?

I’m so excited to have collaborated with iconic British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes. Our collection of sunglasses and handbags launhed at the end of June this year. I’ve had the pleasure of working on the collection with Zandra and her team for just over a year and went back to London to launch the range with her last month.


You are constantly visiting galleries and spaces the world over that surely inspire your electric, eclectic designs. What are three spaces that have inspired you in the last year?

My top three in the last year would have to be: Luis Barragan’s Casa Gilardi in Mexico City; Zandra Rhodes' Rainbow Penthouse in London, designed by Ricardo Legoretta (a disciple of Luis Barragan); and finally, I was lucky enough to view a private art collection in a Tadao Ando-designed residence-slash-gallery here in Tokyo, which featured a few of my favourites: Donald Judd, Joan Miro, Tracy Emin and Roni Horn.


Your home in Tokyo is decorated with books, art, rare fashion pieces and a lush couch big enough to nap on after walking the Aoyama streets shopping up a storm. What’s the next piece you’d love to purchase or send over from Australia?

Shortly before I moved to Tokyo, I spent my life savings on a vintage Tobia Scarpa Soriana sofa set. It probably wouldn’t fit in my apartment here, and I’m comforted knowing it’s getting well used in my office back in Australia. Otherwise, I intend on investing in a few more Noguchi lamps while I’m in Tokyo, as they’re slightly easier to come by and slightly more affordable!


You have a beautiful relationship with scent – your perfume collection is so special. What is the fragrance of now and, if you could only choose one for the rest of time, what would it be?

My current obsession is COMME des GARÇONS Rouge. If I could wear one scent for the rest of time, it would be Frederic Malle’s Portrait of Lady.



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