Words Edited by MPDClick’s Trend Journal Editor.
Here MPDClick brings you our full, extended interview with Burlesque Queen and model Dita Von Teese to discover exactly what inspired her to create her own lingerie brand Von Follies, how her roots in Burlesque influence her designs and what is next for the brand.
MPDClick: What inspired you to create the Von Follies lingerie range?
Dita Von Teese: From age 16 I worked in a lingerie store, and I had a very strong interest in the history of underpinnings and how styles changed from decade to decade. Even at age sixteen, I wanted to be a lingerie expert, so I did everything I could to learn about it! I started collecting vintage lingerie at a young age, and my love for it is what lead me to imitate pinup art of the 1940s, and that is what sparked my career as it is now. Even back then, I equated beautiful lingerie with femininity and everyday luxury rather than seduction. Of course, the art of seducing with lingerie is a wonderful thing, and I am quite aware of the effect it has….but first and foremost, a woman should seduce herself by choosing lingerie that is both beautiful and functional that she can wear in her everyday life, and so bringing these things together, along with affordability, is what I aimed to achieve with my lingerie collection. I was inspired by vintage pieces in my collection, and also from photos of lingerie from my archives of vintage books and magazines. There are so many vintage lingerie pieces that I love that I haven’t ever been able to find in all my years of collecting, and so I wanted to design things that are tributes to my obsessions, and make them wearable and functional, and to modernize them for every day wear. It was very important to me to offer things in a large range of sizes. Size range was one of the first things I asked when I was approached by Lime Door Brands to create this collection, and I was thrilled that they agreed. It was important to me to accomplish the task of making these beautiful things in sizes that can make any size woman feel sexy and glamorous, and I’m very proud that we have been able to do that, while keeping prices affordable.
M: Do you feel your active role in the Burlesque community influences the design process?
D: It’s hard to say, I have to admit that I was really just designing based on things I actually want to wear, and at the same time thinking of women of different shapes and sizes. I think of my fans, of course, but for me there is a big difference between what I wear onstage for a burlesque performance and what I wear underneath my clothes. I did want to design things that give speak to the spirit of burlesque, and let women experience a bit of that type of glamour in their real lives.
M: As one of the most iconic performers in the current Burlesque movement how do you feel the art has progressed or changed over recent time?
D: In the past decade, I have noticed that there are a lot more women. I think a lot of women see it as inspiration to see these shows, especially ones like my Strip Strip Hooray show that has a very diverse selection of performers. Many of the burlesque fans see it as a way to feel beautiful and sexy without fitting into the typical modern day standards of beauty, where the emphasis seems to be on natural, bikini-model, so-called healthy looking tanned slim bodies. Burlesque embraces artifice and fantasy and it’s an image that can be emulated by anyone who put their mind to it, really. It’s about sensual freedom, and the enjoyment of sex and fun of a playful nature! Seduction and feminine prowess! And I would say that the men, for the most part, are enjoying the benefits of this… But When I first started out, I think I had more male fans, many that told me they had sneaked into burlesque theatres as kids. I think that back then, the emphasis was more on titillation for a predominantly male audience, but I think its also quite interesting that it was more acceptable back then in many ways than it is now in the United States. I perform a lot more often in Europe, and there is an entirely different attitude toward burlesque as art, whereas in the US, sadly, most people don’t know the rich history of burlesque in America, where it was truly invented and perfected. Americans have taken steps backwards with regard to sex and nudity, and that’s a shame. But really, now the audience for burlesque is diverse, you have people from all walks of life, all ages. I do say it’s a great place to meet girls like me…we definitely have a vast number of women in the audience wearing red lipstick and garterbelts!
M: Do you think this is a trend which will continue to grow and evolve over time?
D: I feel that if performers think more about creating shows that embrace the spirit of burlesque rather than just make retro styled shows, or copy what they see, then burlesque can have a long life.
M: How do you see the future of the Von follies brand?
D: Well, I’m gathering all the feedback I can from the real women buying it, which I think allows me to make the line better with each season, so I’m really trying to listen to all the comments coming in, and trying to push the limits of how things are done in the lingerie business. There are so many “rules” in place, and it’s been a real struggle to try to work around some of those standards. I see Von Follies as a brand that stands for affordable glamour above all, but I would also like to expand the line to have a high-end luxe range too.
Image source: Von Follies