dita von teese winter 2014
Dita Von Teese, the undisputed queen of neo-burlesque, is as renowned for having her clothes off as on. In 2013, Vanity Fair named her on their international best-dressed list, and last year, Jean Paul Gaultier flew her to Paris to walk in his fashion show for the third time. Our STEPHEN CHRISTOPHER caught up with Dita to find out about her life-long obsession with, and controversy that surrounds her lingerie.
“I’m a girl’s girl,” burlesque-queen-turned-lingerie-designer Dita Von Teese tells me over a grilled salmon (no skin, please) lunch at the Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive. “I’m the girl you could leave your husband or boyfriend alone with, and if he hit on me, it wouldn’t take me longer than five minutes to say, ‘hey, your boyfriend just put some moves on me.’”
More proof that Dita’s a girl’s girl is the audience for her burlesque shows—almost all female. Her latest, “Strip, Strip, Hooray!” is an amalgam of neo-burlesque performers of different ages and shapes. “Women find it inspiring, because it’s a beauty and sensuality that’s attainable and created. It’s not about what you’re born with, it’s about what you make. Take the Victoria’s Secret supermodels—now that’s a kind of sensuality that you have to be born with. Those girls are like racehorses. We’re not all racehorses—some of us can be show ponies—and we can be great if we want to be.”
Today, Dita’s wearing an Elie Saab dress that she says fits her code: below the knee, figure-flattering, curvy, simple, not too retro. As always, her makeup is flawless. She uses M·A·C, and why not, as an ex-Viva Glam ad campaign model, she holds a pretty cool perk—the “Z-Card,” a carte-blanche card that lets her have whatever she wants from any M·A·C counter.
A tad into her 40s, the self-actualized Michigan-born beauty still stuns when performing her now-famous giant martini glass act, and, with clothes on, she’s noted as one of the most fashionable women in the world. In 2013, she made the prestigious Vanity Fair International Best-Dressed list. Last year, she walked in, and closed out, the Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture fashion show (her third time).
Recently, Destination Maternity invited Dita to design a collection of black-lace bras for new mothers. Some critics…well, one in particular, stuck her neck out by saying the collection was not what young mothers desired—that the last thing a new mother wanted was attention to her engorged and overly sensitive breasts. The Von Teese cavalry rose en masse, posting responses that basically told the writer how wrong she was and where she could go.
“It’s divided,” Dita explains. “Some people only see lingerie as for sex, but more and more women are embracing their sensuality, reading erotica, and going to burlesque shows. Black lace looks good on anybody. It’s elegant and erotic at the same time.”
Long before Victoria’s Secret’s sexy lingerie ‘fashion’ shows were televised extravaganzas, Dita Von Teese was a young girl secretly obsessed with lingerie. At 6, she’d steal away with her mother’s, just to touch it. Her first job was working at a lingerie boutique in Orange County. As her obsession grew, controversy soon followed. “When I was 15, I remember so well, when I used to hand-wash my nice lingerie and hang them in my bathroom, my father would be super-offended. Now that I’m old enough to process it, my father probably associated lingerie with sex and seduction. And that’s what he was projecting onto me.”
Dita takes out her iPhone and shows me what photo gets the most ‘likes’ on Instagram. Surprisingly, it’s not a shot from one of her famous burlesque shows, or one of her in sexy black lace—it’s a rather sedate photo of her, covered from head to toe, in front of a log cabin at Christmas. “There’s not a lot of pictures of me, because I don’t often do selfies. I hate to even say the word.” Now that she’s officially disconnected her Facebook account, claiming too much unnecessary drama, she’s focused on Twitter (1.7 million followers) and a new app called WhoSay that feeds all her social media channels.
Just this morning, she attended financial meetings with attorneys and accountants. “Super boring,” she says, groaning, “I’m getting my situation in order—trying to be more present and knowledgeable in my endeavors. I get very Joan Crawford. I get dressed up and made up for them, and I go into the meeting wanting to understand everything. There’s less chance of being screwed over when you’re present. It’s easy in this business to get taken advantage of. Since I don’t have a husband or dad to watch out for me, I have to look out for myself.”
With that, Dita confidently takes out her compact and refreshes her lip gloss, as she’s about to leave, and sums up the welcome timing of her new lingerie and glove collection: “I can’t be bathing in a giant martini glass forever…can I? It all has to evolve, as it’s meant to.”
Art Direction: Stephen Kamifuji
Photographer: Tracey Morris / OliveHead.com
Stylist: Angel Terrazas / Wilhelmina Artists
Makeup: Camille Clark / AimArtist.com
Hair: John Blaine / CrosbyCarterMgmt.com
Digital Tech: Robert Morris
Stylist’s Assistant: Melissa Imperial
Photo Assistant: Isaiah Howard
Location: Special thanks to George Judah at Sculpture Design Imports
416 South Robertson Blvd, LA, 310-858-8266, sculpturedesign.com