The burlesque artiste has held off designing her own lingerie – until now. She tells Lauretta Roberts why she has chosen to work with Wonderbra.
How did you come to be designing your own range for Wonderbra?
I’d been approached by other lingerie brands, but it never seemed right. It was important to make sure it was something I would wear and that I could be proud of. I’m particular about how my lingerie fits and the quality. It seems to me that when people design retro lingerie, they don’t think about it being worn; they just think about it being taken off and that women are wearing it for their partners.
What attracted you to Wonderbra?
I followed the elusive Wonderbra mystique for a while and it was difficult to find one of their bras in the US. I bought my first Wonderbra in Europe and I still have it.
Where did the inspiration come from for your first collection?
I looked into my own wardrobe, which consists of a lot of vintage pieces. I’ve been collecting vintage lingerie for years – I’ve had an obsession with it my whole life. My first job was working in a lingerie store and I have a fascination with the history of lingerie and how it has changed through the years. So I delved into my collection and looked at the details that I thought were lacking from modern ranges.
How do you think women will react to the lingerie?
People will be attracted to it. It has all those beautiful details of sexy, sensual, glamorous lingerie. The fit is great and you can wear it under everyday clothes. I think it’s sexy when you have a secret of your own and it’s not just something you put on for your lover.
Is creating your own range something you’ve always wanted to do?
When I was 16 I worked in a lingerie store. So to be designing my own collection is a dream. Somewhere there’s a girl like me working in a lingerie store that is obsessed with it as much as I am, so it goes to show that you can end up creating your own lingerie.
You’re shooting a short film for Wonderbra where you play a scientist who discovers a Wonderbra gene and transforms into glamorous Dita. Did that resonate personally?
It’s the exaggerated version of my life: I feel like I was a different girl before I discovered glamour. I aspired to be like the movie stars of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood and I learned how to use make-up, hairstyling and clothes to create glamour.
Do you think you would still look thisglamorous if it wasn’t part of your job?
I’ve been dressing this way and performing burlesque since the early 1990s. Before that I was always into styling myself this way. This is something I’ve been enjoying for 18 years now. It’s not something that I did so I could get noticed. It’s something that’s real for me.
Where do you buy your clothes? Do you have any favourite London stores?
I always visit Moschino and Christian Dior.
Will you design a fashion collection?
It is disconcerting when celebrities just design clothes that are derivative of their favourite brands. I am interested in creating a line based on my own clothing collection as it is difficult to find vintage clothes at good prices. I would love to see some of the pieces in my wardrobe readily available to glamour girls.
Who is your fashion icon and why?
I am inspired by iconic women with a strong sense of self like Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Vreeland, Betty Grable, Lisa Fonssagrives, and The Marchesa Luisa Casati.
Dita Von Teese is an icon to many so perhaps it is appropriate that she has many icons. Marlene Dietrich, the German-born actress, was an icon to fashion designers who were inspired by her style.
She said: “I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for the fashion, not for men.” Then there is fashion editor Diana Vreeland, who discovered actress Edie Sedgwick and worked at Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, where she was editor-in-chief until 1971. Lisa Fonssagrives has been cited as the world’s first supermodel, when that meant gracing the cover of Town & Country, Vanity Fair and Life. Actresses Monroe and Grable you already know.
Last but not least The Marchesa Luisa Casati was an Italian heiress who inspired novelists, film makers and fashion. Although she died in 1957, designer John Galliano based a 1998 collection on her.
Dita Von Teese is a burlesque artiste and lingerie designer