Last week in New York, the day before a performance to celebrate her new collaboration with French spirit brand Cointreau, we chatted with Von Teese, who told us the secret to being an artistic muse, gave us the skinny on the “Cointreau Teese” and tempted us with details about her upcoming projects.
JC Report: How does it feel to have a cocktail named after you?
Dita Von Teese: It’s pretty great. It’s even better now that I’ve learned how to mix it myself. It’s delicious—I drink it all the time.
JCR: What makes the “Cointreau Teese” distinctive?
DVT: I wanted it to be a really elegant and glamorous cocktail, and I wanted it to be a little different, too. I don’t think many people have had the chance to sip a violet-flavored anything. I used to bring back violet liquors from Paris, and I always loved the idea of drinking something perfumey.
JCR: Tell us about the performance you’re doing for the launch.
DVT: I created a whole new show for this. The costume is the most extravagant that I’ve ever worn with about 350,000 Swarovski crystals on it, and it’s very heavy and [has] really special feathers. I took my martini-glass burlesque show idea to a different level. I went over the top with the idea—it’ll be my most extravagant show to date.
JCR: Who designed the costume?
DVT: My friend Catherine D’lish makes all of my costumes. She designed the costume around the Cointreau colors, and we had unexpected touches in the show. For instance, Cointreau’s first ads—it’s a 150 year old brand—used to feature Pierrot clowns. I had my assistant in the show dress in a cute little Pierrot costume. I went through the history of Cointreau and thought about what little things I can incorporate into my show that weren’t too obvious, aren’t just branding and labeling and putting my name on it.
JCR: What is it about you that inspires so many fashion designers?
DVT: Most of them know that I’m self-styled, and there’s an appreciation for that. Women in Hollywood are too afraid: they don’t want to style themselves, and they’re not really choosing for themselves. It’s all about hiring stylists that will help them land on the best-dressed lists. I’m not really interested in being on the best-dressed list. I like to be on the worst dressed too. It’s a fantastic place to be, and I’m in good company if I’m there. I think they know the adventure of dressing, and I’m not concerned about what’s going to make me be considered fashionable. The people I admire, such as John Galliano and Jean Paul Gaultier, are eccentrics. And they aren’t trying to be like everyone else. We have a lot in common that way, and we know that what makes us different is what makes us good.
JCR: Who are your fashion inspirations?
DVT: I’m inspired by the past a lot, and eccentric women. People such as Marchesa Casati; Diana Vreeland; the models from the ’40s era who did their own hair and make-up; the late Isabella Blow, who was really extravagant and fabulous; and Anna Piaggi, one of the most exciting eccentrics to watch.
I see women on the street and one of the things that inspires me is when I see someone who has blue eye shadow on and you can tell she’s been wearing her makeup the same way since 1965. I’m inspired by women who have held on to their look—they know themselves, and they wear what they want to wear despite what fashion dictates.
JCR: Why do you think burlesque is experiencing resurgence?
DVT: A lot of women are fans of burlesque, and they are embracing this whole idea of finding empowerment in dressing and un-dressing, playing with hair and make up, and striptease. They’re thinking that its fun to embrace your inner bombshell. I love that it’s seeing resurgence in this way.
JCR: What other projects can we expect from you?
DVT: I also have line of lingerie coming out with Wonderbra in Europe this fall. So I’m excited about that. I’m also working on my second book, which is a step-by-step book on how to create glamorous, eccentric makeup and hair.
This interview was conducted by Robert Cordero.