Walking into my interview with burlesque beauty Dita Von Teese at NYC hot spot The Lion, I half-expected the raven-haired beauty to be dressed in, well, lingerie. After all, the sexy star has made a name for herself by taking it all off in front of an audience, often while writhing around in oversized martini glasses and brandishing feather fans. In fact, however, Von Teese turned up in a demure black pencil skirt and matching sweater, her feet tucked into snakeskin Christian Louboutin pumps.
Perhaps that’s why she’s considered something of a style icon rather than a glorified stripper: she’s almost single-handedly bringing back the art of burlesque, and is completely committed to vintage glamour in all its forms. Now, Von Teese is partnering with HSN on a collection of lacy underthings and fragrances that’ll hopefully help us mere mortals get a piece of her trademark sophisticated sensuality. Read on for my chat with the so-called Queen of Burlesque, in which she discusses her favorite lip colors, the fashion item she’d never be caught dead wearing and why every woman needs a good garter belt.
Lucky: As someone who wears corsets all the time and has been doing so for years, tell me: is there a trick to making them less painful? Or is it something you just get used to over time?
Dita Von Teese: I think it helps a lot to have them made, like I do, because you can choose where you want it to be tighter or looser. I have a lot of mine made by Mr. Pearl, who’s just haute couture of the highest level. But it’s about discipline. Whenever you’re wearing a corset, you have to sit a certain way, walk a certain way.
It’s definitely a transformative piece.
Exactly. Which is something I love about clothing in general. What you wear really affects how you walk, stand, sit, everything.
What are some of the types of lingerie should every woman own?
I think every woman should have a really nice set of black lace lingerie that fits perfectly. She should have the bra, a string, a bikini, a brief and a garter belt. Black lace is always sexy, it’s classic, it’s glamorous—it’s everything.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a garter belt described as an essential before.
Well, I think you never know when you’re gonna need a garter belt! It’s classic. It’s not just about what’s sexy—it’s a staple, I think. I mean, I can go on and on about why I prefer stockings to pantyhose…
They’re sexier, for starters.
Definitely sexier, but more economic too. Like I could buy one pair of beautiful, expensive hosiery and get a run in them the first time I put them on, just in one leg—and then have to throw the whole pair away. If I pull on one stocking and get a run, fine! I just pull another one out of the package and go. The longevity is much more economical.
Being in the burlesque industry, you probably define a wardrobe malfunction differently than most—but have you ever had an incident when you revealed way more than you intended to?
Lots of times. Usually, those things happen to me when I’m first working on a new costume or new act. It’s always a fine line between too many hooks and snaps…and not enough. I’m always trying to figure out how to make it easier on myself. I’d rather be stuck in something than have it fall off too early! It’s funny—I’m totally comfortable being nearly nude, but I’m not comfortable walking down the street and having the wind blow up my skirt. I like the deliberate choice of what I’m showing and not showing.
Shoe-wise, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wearing anything other than five- or six-inch stilettos. Do you even own a pair of flats?
I wear ballet flats a lot in my day-to-day life—I really do! I guess everyone’s used to seeing me in my "high maintenance" look, but on a regular day I usually spent very little time on beauty. I just wear red lipstick, mascara…but I do love a classic, simple black ballet flat.
OK—is there anything you’d never be caught dead wearing, then?
Crocs, UGG boots…any sort of unflattering footwear, basically. Floppy, sloppy shoes.
Red lipstick seems to be one of your signatures. When did you first start wearing it?
I think I was about 14 when I started playing around with it. I just had this "aha" moment of having a splash of color on my face—it changed everything for me. And now, I like any vibrant color on my lips—red, orange, fuchsia, burgundy. I love to play with colorful lipstick, and I believe there are lots and lots of different shades of red out there. I have a big lipstick wardrobe.
Any particular brands you swear by?
I like Dior, I like Guerlain, MAC has really nice matte reds…and I like this brand called Lip Ink, which a lot of people haven’t heard of. They actually use it a lot in the porn industry—it does not move. When people talk about indelible lipstick, I mean, this is indelible beyond your wildest dreams.
Dita Von Teese’s collection for HSN will be available at HSN.com starting next week, and Von Teese herself will be live on HSN for the official launch on April 23. Prices range from $25 to $45 for lingerie and $20 to $75 for fragrance items.
Images courtesy of HSN.
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