Try this on for size: Did you know that Dita Von Teese’s waist is 22 itsy-bitsy inches, but can contract down to 16.5 with the yank of a corset’s rope? And that’s hardly the most impressive asset the badass of burlesque’s got to flaunt. The martini-glass and powder-compact acts rev you up, turn you on … and the impeccable costuming practically hurls you to scratch that vintage-shopping itch. Well, DVT’s proved over the years that she’s got a mind that spins as fast as those tassels (leaving Marilyn Manson may have been the first evidence!), and she’s capitalized on her now-renowned retro flair with a limited-edition line of finery that anyone can wear.
It adds up that the pieces are supreme — she’s got more sewing street cred than any other star we’ve seen. As a former lingerie buyer and armed with a college degree in costume design, it’s no wonder we swooned over a floor-length floral number, form-fitting LBD with a peekaboo bra, and voluminous trench. With the launch at Decades just yesterday (it’s all sold exclusively there), we can confirm this collection is certainly no tease (and don’t worry, there aren’t any organ-injuring corsets in the mix!). While we ogled every thread, we managed a chat with the porcelain figurine, and discovered some super-interesting tidbits about what makes her tick. Read on below to find out how she manages to go head-to-toe retro and not look gauche, where she sweats to maintain that unreal bod, and a few of the 40-year-old’s sneaky beauty secrets.
The collection looks fantastic! How did the idea spark for the collaboration?
“I started working on the collection about two years ago with Lime Door Brands in Australia. The dress collection is comprised of pieces that are all based on the things in my vintage collection that I believe are timeless. I wanted to keep it very simple for each season, so I can stay focused and make sure each piece is perfect. Some of the dresses are based on favorite vintage pieces that I’ve worn over and over for 12 years, and that’s a testament to a dress that transcends trends. I’ve also made them more wearable by changing little things like necklines, hemlines, etcetera, and making them out of the best quality fabrics so they are made to last, both physically and style-wise. We’re doing them in plus sizes, too. This isn’t a retro clothing line — it’s really about classic glamour that doesn’t fade with time.”
What was the process like when combing through your massive vintage wardrobe to pick the particular pieces you wanted to recreate?
“I just thought about which dresses I’ve worn over and over different ways, year after year, and which things I got the most compliments on, and a few of the pieces were based on things that I had wanted to modify to make them more wearable. I also designed the Showcase Dress to show off my pretty bras, and as the perfect date dress.”
Did you and the Decades dudes have a closet-cleaning party?
“Ahh, I’m a total pack rat, I never get rid of anything! The times I have parted with my good vintage pieces, I’ve mostly regretted it.”
What’s your favorite piece in the collection, and why?
“I love them all, of course, but I find that I wear the Showcase Dress and the VIP Trench the most. A lot of people don’t go for the fomer because you have to try it on to see its beauty. The black silk velvet is just about the most sensual dress I’ve ever worn — I just love really plush silk velvet — there’s nothing more glamorous and nothing sexier. It’s my man-catching uniform, works like a charm!”
What’s your key piece of advice to wearing retro garb when you don’t necessarily want to look costume-y?
“You have to look for things that have a timeless feel, and that’s hard to explain, but that’s exactly what each of these dresses I’ve made have.”
Do you have any diet or sneaky health secrets?
“I follow the regime of Kimberly Snyder’s book, The Beauty Detox Solution. I have green smoothies in the morning, a light vegan lunch, and my heaviest meal at dinner. I never eat fruit with meals. I obey her food combining rules, and that helps keep my stomach nice and flat!”
Do you have any favorite fitness classes in town?
“I do pilates and take ballet classes, but I’m a purist about my workouts. Mari Winsor has a great butt workout. I think she has a DVD devoted just to toning the butt and legs. Her place is right next door to Decades!”
What’s your favorite tune right now to get you grooving?
“I love Monarchy’s album, Around the Sun . I just did a song and a video with the band — I love them so much!”
What’s your most prized vintage possession, where did you find it, and why is it so special to you?
“It’s a 1954 Christian Dior Paris haute couture New Look-era suit with the label inside, which bears the red-stamped serial numbers and season. It’s the real deal, extremely rare, and extremely valuable. It belongs in a museum, but I wear it! It’s grey tweed, three pieces, with that famous Dior full skirt, a tweed blouse, and a coat. It’s the Holy Grail of ’50s clothing. I found it in San Francisco, at the bargain price of around $4,000. As a perfect example of the New Look Era, it’s worth far, far more!”
What’s your most recent vintage purchase that you’re over the moon for?
“A big black 1940 La Salle convertible.”
MAC’s Gregory Arlt does your makeup. What are your top three products he uses to achieve your look?
“MAC Mineralize Skinfinish powder, Fluidline eyeliner in Blacktrack, and Eye Shadow in Vapour. He also loves my own ARTDECO makeup collection, which has 6 incredible, velvety-red shades. It’s not available in the US yet, but hopefully will be soon!”
Do you have a fountain of youth product you swear by?
“Sunscreen. The best is MDSolarSciences’ SPF 40 Mineral Screen Lotion. It has a matte finish and silky texture that’s downright sensual! It’s a life-changing product for those of us that are smart enough to protect our skin.”
Where in L.A. do you like to shop for non-vintage clothes?
“I rarely go shopping unless I know a certain designer is doing clothes that are my style. The last modern thing I bought was a McQueen cape and belt. I collect ’40s-era capes, and I’ve been working on recreating one of my favorites to add to my line.”
What’s your favorite place to indulge in town?
“Red Medicine restaurant on Wilshire.”
What’s the proudest moment of your career thus far?
“When I was the first guest star in the history of The Crazy Horse Paris, and producing and selling out my full-length revue, Burlesque: Strip Strip Hooray!“
What’s your best piece of advice to aspiring artists?
“Don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers … if you don’t incite both accolades and criticism, what you are doing is most likely mediocre, and that’s the kiss of death.”