20 Questions With: Latex Lingerie Designer Elissa Grainger

Elissa Poppy latex lingerie "Primitive" Collection

Meet the designer bringing latex out of its fetish roots –> into the mainstream.


When you think of latex, you might have visions of fetish parties, bondage-wear and further frisky activities a la Fifty Shades of Grey. But one woman is determined to get you thinking differently about the versatile, natural material. Meet Elissa Grainger, the UK based lingerie designer behind Elissa Poppy on a mission to bring latex out of its fetish roots and into the mainstream.

A firm believer in celebrating the female form, Elissa carefully applies a feminine take on the traditions of latex lingerie to result in exquisite, wearable, and above all empowering pieces to be worn both in the bedroom and beyond. The on-the-rise talent (who single handedly pioneered latex lace) is already making waves, selected last year to show her graduate collection “Resplendent” on the acclaimed Contour Fashion catwalk in London, a recognized brand under the Prince’s Trust Young Enterprise program and winner of the 2016 St. Andrews Young Designer Award.

We caught up with the paradigm-shifting designer on latex do’s and don’ts, challenges and successes of being a young entrepreneur, her dream dinner party guest list, plus – what 1 celebrity is she dying to dress?

Above, Elissa Poppy’s Graduate Collection “Resplendent,” as shown on the acclaimed Contour Fashion catwalk in London, June 2015. Shop the looks here

1. Is lingerie design always something you’ve dreamed of doing?

Lingerie is always something I loved, but not something that I ever thought was possible for me to specialize in straightaway – I thought you had to grow into the industry through studying fashion. Because of this I was looking to do Fashion Design courses but when researching different options available I found Contour Fashion at De Montfort University – something just clicked and that was it!

2. What in particular drew you to latex as a primary fabrication?

We had a project at university where we were free to go wild and create any fashion forward outfit we could think of. I had always wanted to work with latex and just went for it and I’ve been hooked ever since! For me it represents a sort of challenge, I’ve always wanted to show it in a different light, take it away from its fetish roots but still celebrate its powerful image. I love introducing my pieces to women who have never thought of wearing it before as they never think it can be that feminine. It’s a nice surprise vs. how most women previously regard the material.

3. Transitioning straight from studies to your own independent label is no easy feat! How did you come to decide to launch your own line straight out of the gate?

I’ve always wanted to be an independent designer. I’m not really interested in designing for other brands or companies who don’t share my same style, especially commercially. I thought, “if not now, when?” I love the creative freedom being independent brings.

[Related: 21 Questions With: Anya Lust Founder + Erotic Writer Krystle Kotara]

4. What has been your biggest challenge thus far as a young entrepreneur, and what has been your biggest reward?

My biggest challenge at the moment is the long list I still have to go through! There’s so much to do and not enough time in the day. My biggest reward so far has been gaining my stockists Anya Lust and Brigade Mondaine, two well known e-boutiques that are a pleasure to work with. It makes me very excited for what the future may hold!

5. What’s coming up for Elissa Poppy?

I do have thoughts for a new collection which again will bring something new to the table. I’m very excited about this but it won’t be for a while yet! Right now I’m focusing on growing interest in the brand, getting us out there and creating a buzz. The new collection has been received really well which I am delighted about. It’s keeping me busy which is good but there’s so much more that I want to do.

6. For women new to latex, what are your top 3 latex lingerie DO’s?

a) Lightly talc the inside to slip knickers on easier.

b) Dress up for that special someone. I love wearing pieces with other materials to mix it up, the Maia Set in Black with my Gilda & Pearl silk and fluffy Kimono is to die for!

c) Show it off! There’s a beautiful shot of Romanie Smith in a full suit wearing my Theia Basque and Hecate Bra to replace a shirt and it is incredible! Stefania Ferrario wore a T-shirt with my pieces in the latest shoot for Draft Magazine and it was stunning! I definitely think my pieces are statement pieces – they are made to be seen!

[Related: 10 Bralettes to Wear Over (or Instead of) Your T-Shirt This Summer]

7. Top 3 latex lingerie DON’Ts?

a) Don’t be scared, embrace it!

b) No fake tanning! It stains lighter latex colours.

c) No folding! Once latex creases it’s creased forever. Make sure to hang your pieces in a place where they’re protected from other objects. Obviously no ironing!

8. What’s the best way to wash latex lingerie?

The easiest way is to hand wash in lukewarm bubbly water – super simple! There are brands like Pjur and BeGloss who offer care products that increase the shine of latex when you wash them which is also recommended.

9. Top 3 lingerie silhouettes every woman must have in her under-drawer:

a) Balconette Bra – I think it creates the perfect shape for everyday wear, preferably with matching knickers. I’m a bit OCD when it comes to matching sets!

b) Bodysuit – Something comfy to prance around the house in or to slip on under casual outfits.

c) High Waist Knicker/Thong – One of the most flattering shapes especially with a cute design. I love high waist shapes at the moment!

[Related: Campaign Crush: Maison Close “Villa Bel Ami”]

10. If I weren’t designing lingerie, I would be:

Running my own cocktail only beach bar!

11. If I could have any 1 person in the world (past or present) wear Elissa Poppy, it would be:

Beyonce, because Beyonce!

12. My favorite lingerie moment in film is:

Funny Girl, when the showgirls make an appearance in jeweled lingerie and hats!

Funny Girl showgirls

Photo source.

13. If I could invite any 3 people in the world (past or present) to a dinner party, the guest list would read:

Sir David Frederick AttenboroughMax Greenfield (in character as Schmidtt from New Girl, of course!) and my Aunty Elaine. Such a random mix but yes!

14. If I could live in any past decade, it would be:

Tricky! I think the 60’s. I love the fashion and everything that was happening then in the art world – Roy Lichtenstein is a big inspiration of mine.

15. On a typical night, I can be found sleeping in:

Nothing!

16. If we were to find you at a bar, you would be drinking:

A cocktail concoction of some sort definitely!

17. If I could pack up and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, I’d go to:

Bali, always wanted to visit that part of the world. I love exploring and it seems perfect.

18. Briefs or Thongs? Thongs

19. Cupcakes or Cookies? Cupcakes

20. Early Riser or Night Owl? Night Owl

www.elissapoppy.com I IG @elissapoppy I Twitter @elissa_poppy I FB @elissapoppy

Browse the gallery below to view Elissa Poppy’s SS16 “Primitive” Collection; shop the looks here.