Dita Von Teese is the undisputed International Queen of Burlesque. In demand as a performer all over the world, Dita brings classic art deco and pin-up imagery to life. Following in the tradition of legends like Lili St. Cyr, Sally Rand, and Gypsy Rose Lee, she is well-known for her retro looks and style as well as her elaborate performance costumes and ornate sets.
Best known for her cocktail glass show in which she performs an old fashioned strip tease that culminates with her submerging herself in an oversized champagne or martini glass (complete with strawberry or olive sponge respectively), Dita has performed her shows at events throughout the US, as well as in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland and Vienna. Evoking the spirit of traditional burlesque, Dita has appeared at several high profile events for designers like Marc Jacobs, Christian Louboutin, Roland Mouret, Chopard, and the recent Paris Fashion Week event for Louis Vuitton to celebrate the opening of their Champs Elysees store.
In addition to her live performances, Dita is also a fashion icon whom has been featured as #13 in Vogue’s Best Dressed, and as Harper’s Bazaar UK’s #2 Top Fashion Icon of the year. Recently, Dita was featured in issues of Vanity Fair, Interview (interviewed by Stefano Pilati of YSL), Bazaar, and Elle UK’s coverage of the couture shows in Paris - “Dita Does Couture” which featured her on location at the extravagant Hotel Meurice, modeling couture gowns by the likes of Gaultier, Dior, Valentino, Chanel, and Christian Lacroix.
Dita released her first book, Burlesque/Fetish and The Art of the Teese, a foray into all things burlesque and fetish, and her role in each world (Regan Books/Harper Collins - $34.95 US). A two-sided book full of amazing photos, Burlesque/Fetish and The Art of the Teese features photographs by the likes of Steven Klein, Ellen Von Unwerth, Wayne Maser, Rankin, and more. In addition, Dita also has her own collection of Full-Fashioned Seamed Stockings with Secrets In Lace, which are available through their catalog and her website. We caught up with Dita during her trip to Chicago (during which she performed at Ikram Goldman's 5th anniversary store party) to discuss her new book, her favorite stores worldwide and her upcoming summer trip to the famous Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan.
FACTIO MAGAZINE: Give us an inside look at your career as a burlesque artist, retro pin-up and author of Burlesque and the Art of the Teese. DITA VON TEESE: My book is out now in bookstores everywhere, I am constantly updating my website dita.net with new photos and stories of my day to day life, and I'm a newlywed! I do travel often to London and Paris as well as cities around the world performing my burlesque shows. Most recently, I have performed in Gstaad, Milan , and Berlin. I do try to perform in Los Angeles whenever I can but I am always excited to visit new cities and experience new places!
FM: Describe your signature style. DVT: I love old-Hollywood style glamour, so I prefer clothes that are very feminine and elegant. Although I collect and wear vintage clothing, I also wear a lot of modern clothes that are reminiscent of vintage clothing. Modern designers I like are Moschino, Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gaultier, Dior and YSL.
FM: What are your personal favorite shops worldwide? DVT: Moschino in London and Milan, Chantal Thomass in Paris, Ikram in Chicago, Marc Jacobs in NYC, Louis Vuitton in Paris, Golyester Vintage in Los Angeles, Stephen Jones Millinery in London, and Christian Louboutin which is in London, NY, Paris and Los Angeles.
FM: Where are some of your favorite places to travel and what do you always pick up
for your wardrobe? DVT: I travel to Paris and London quite often. I never leave Paris without buying Chantal Thomass lingerie and Francis Klein sunglasses. I don't shop in Los Angeles where I live very often. Twice a year I attend this Vintage Clothing Expo here, so I hold out for that!
FM: What are you always on the hunt for? DVT: That one special piece that I can wear a hundred ways! For me, my Roland
Mouret Galaxy dress is that, and so is my Dior New Look style suit. I love things I can wear with my art deco jewelry, hats and gloves.
FM: What women and men (from which city worldwide) have great style and why? DVT: The men that have the best personal style are John Galliano, Zac Posen, Hamish Bowles, and my husband, of course. I love a man who dresses UP! The women whose style I admire are Madonna and Marlene Dietrich. There are lots of women that always look terrific, but I think there are very few celebrities that actually have a signature personal style. Most of them are wearing what their stylist recommends. Marlene Dietrich was a complete individual who broke new ground with the outfits she chose, and she showed women
how to look glamourous in pants. And Madonna is the only true style icon of our time, and likely one of the few female entertainers people will remember from our time 100 years from now.
FM: Do you think money and style go hand in hand or can style never be bought? Is it something you just have? DVT: It helps to have a little money but there are LOTS of wealthy celebrities that we see that look disastrous on a regular basis... I'm not naming any names, but the proof is all around! But on the other hand, I can appreciate anyone that has a 'signature look' that she follows, whether I like it or not.
FM: What would people be most surprised to know about you? DVT: I don't think anything about me is surprising, but people seem to always be surprised that I am quiet and shy in person just because of what I do. But since when does the volume of one's voice have anything to do with self confidence? And I think that most entertainers are a bit shy off camera or off stage.
FM: If you weren’t in this business, where would you be? DVT: I would be working with clothes in some way, whether styling fashion shoots, costuming films, or owning my own boutique. I might also be living in Paris.
FM: What tips would you give women and men in general to be well rounded, balancing out life and career? DVT: I would say to do something you enjoy, and if you can't do something you love, then enjoy your time away from work doing something you love.
FM: Where do you see yourself in five years? DVT: I think I might just be doing the same thing in that window of time... which at this rate would be a wonderful thing!
FM: Being from Michigan, do you ever travel back and if so, what are your favorite cities and places to go? DVT: I have been back a couple times and visited a few of my childhood haunts. I have no burning desire to live there again, but it's nice to visit certain areas. I plan making a trip to Michigan's beautiful Mackinac Island this summer. I went there every summer as a child and I dreamed of staying at the historic Grand Hotel, so I am going to finally stay there.... in an enormous suite, no doubt! They have no cars on the island, just bicycles and horse and carriage. It's a wonderfully romantic place.
To find out more about Dita Von Teese, please visit www.dita.net.
- Interview by Melissa Maynard, editor-in-chief/founder Factio-magazine.com. Photo by Henrique Kerch for www.factio-magazine.com
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