Getting to Know Dita von Teese
There’s more to Dita von Teese than burlesque dances and glamorous dresses. The Cointreau- versial beauty gets chatting to Cosmopolitan Editor,
Ever since Dita von Teese came on the scene, I’ve been fascinated by her. Not just because she’s made a career out of sexy dancing, or mastered the tricky art of retro curls, or dresses like a 1940s moviestar every single day. But because after all this, we still know little else about the woman who made old- school cool. So when Cointreau invited me to meet her in Singapore ( she’s their brand ambassador), I said ‘ yes’. And discovered that the burlesque dancer is smart, warm, funny, sexy... and remains absolutely fascinating.
COSMO: So how did you decide to get into burlesque dancing?
Dita von Teese: It was never really a conscious decision. I’ve always done things that I like and this is one of them. I’ve been performing burlesque for the last 20 years, but I’ve had these different jobs while working on my burlesque shows— I’ve worked in an LA nightclub, in a lingerie store, and a make- up store. It took me many years to finally realise that this was really my job.
C: Tell us about your Cointreau association...
DVT: It started in 2007, when Cointreau approached me with an interesting project. I was already performing the martini glass routine, and they had some great ideas and I was excited to work with them. Our association has come a long way since then and we’ve done many interesting projects together. Having learned about the history of the brand and all the iconic cocktails that were invented with Cointreau, it’s been a great learning experience for me.
C: And we hear you’ve created a few cocktails, too...
DVT: Yes, my favourite is the Cointreau Teese, which is infused with flavours of violet flowers, ginger, lemon and apple. The second one I like is called the Margadita, which is a classic Margarita with rose essence and patchouli pepper. I’ve become really good at mixing that one!
DVT: About an hour, if you’re me, ( laughs), but if you’re not, I’ll say a little longer. I pretty much always wear my hair and make- up the same way, so it doesn’t take me much time. Practice does make you perfect. But there have been moments when I’ve overslept, and I literally have 25 minutes to get ready, so then I have to really focus and hurry it up. I’m also writing a beauty book now, so I’ve started timing myself— how long it takes me to do my eyes, how long it takes to put on lipstick, etc.
Cointreau Teese, , my y fave, f , is infused f with the flavours f of f violet flowers, f , ginger, g lemon
C: So how long does it take to look like Dita von Teese?
C: And do you always do your own make- up?
DVT: Yes, I do, unless I’m shooting for a campaign or doing a photoshoot. I have a hard time finding makeup artists who can what I do, better than me, and d I don’t work with new make- up artists often becaus se it’s frustrating to wait for someone to finish it in th hree hours, when you can do it in 20 minutes. There a are some amazing hair and make- up artists I’ve work ked with, but it’s hard to find people like that in every y city.
C: Do share your top beauty tips...
DVT: Having clear good skin is really like the bas sis of beauty. It’s not about something you buy in a jar f for $ 200. I always say that your best money is spent o on a dermatologist, not a Botox or lazer one, but a re eal doctor who can help you improve your skin. Seco ond, and this one’s obvious, don’t smoke cigarettes and d skip the sun rays as they cause ageing. And numb ber three, experiment with make- up, find a signature e look, and own it. I love women who have that one e thing they feel really strongly about, like for me it t’s red lipstick. I enjoy it and there’s no talking me ou ut
I have a hard time finding f g make- up p artists who can do what I do,
better than me.
Find your own personal style.
The most stylish women don’t change their look every
of it. There’s no thinking, ‘ Why don’t you try beige lips today’. No, it’s just not happening.
C: Do you ever tire of dressing up every day? Do you ever crave casual jeans- and- tee days?
DVT: No, that sounds like a lot of effort! First of all, I’ll have to find a pair of jeans because I don’t own any. And my casual look is more of ’ 50s dresses. I’ll wear a cotton dress, put my hair in a bun, wear sunglasses, lipstick, and I’m done. I think that takes less time than putting on a pair of jeans, socks and T- shirt. Working a regular casual look requires a lot of effort, but slipping into and zipping a lovely summer dress is so much easier.
C: If you had to give a friend just one style tip, what would it be?
DVT: To find your own personal sense of style and stick with it. You shouldn’t try too hard to be trendy or constantly change your look according to fashion. I think the most stylish and iconic women in the world don’t change their look every season. I feel best in clothes that I can wear every single year, over and over again.
C: How have the ’ 40s and ’ 50s made such an impact on your style?
DVT: As a kid, I used to watch a lot of old movies, and it became obvious to me that glamour was not just something you are, it’s something you become. Without my hair, make- up, and fancy clothes, I’m a pretty ordinary looking girl. I’m the girl who people will tell, ‘ Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not pretty’, like they’re doing me a favour. But I’ve learnt that I can own a room, or I can disappear in a crowd. And I like the fact that I can control the attention I get based on how I look.
C: That’s a very strong message for women everywhere...
DVT: Yes, and I believe that anyone can do it. I didn’t want to live up to the image of a beautiful supermodel who looks great in a bikini and no make- up. I can never fit into that image, and that’s the reason I started learning about the art of creating glamour. It’s like the Madonna theory. She may not be the best singer or the most beautiful woman, but she is the best pop star of our time. It’s not about the money, or having the right people, it’s about being the leader of your ship and overcoming what people said you didn’t have.
C: What’s your take on the whole ‘ body image’ debate?
DVT: A lot of people ask me about the Size Zero thing. For some, it doesn’t matter, for others it’s either about being voluptuous or thin. But you can’t really tell because beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I don’t like people talking about other people’s sizes. You should never pick on people on the basis of their body.
C: Have you been to India yet?
DVT: No, I haven’t, but I’m dying to! I have a feeling I’ll really love it. I really should visit India and, to be honest, I have no idea why I haven’t done it, yet...
Dita von Teese
Dita’s famous routine, where she splashes about in a giant Cointreau glass