Dita Von Teese's

Quentin Jones
Alexander Gilkes
Charlotte Olympia Dellal
Apollonia Poilane

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And so it began, on a day like any other, Heather Renée Sweet, a 13-year-old girl, the blonde-haired daughter of a machinist and a manicurist living in rural Michigan, went shopping with her mother. "She bought me a white cotton bra and a pair of pantyhose you used to find in those L'eggs eggs," she recalls. “When I opened the package and found a pair of wrinkly, flesh-toned tights inside, I felt disappointed. I wanted to look like the women I saw in my father's Playboy magazines." And there you have it, with the crack of an egg – pop! – came the inception of an idea, a persona, a star that would become known as Dita Von Teese.

Her nom de scene says it all: Dita Von Teese, notorious femme fatale, beguiling burlesque queen. The mere mention of her name conjures images of a languid seductress, draped in diamonds, strewn across a tufted chaise covered in ballet-peach satin. But Von Teese is far more than a busty bombshell. She is an avant-garde performance artist in demand across the globe, a wily businesswoman, and a successful author. Her new 400-page tome, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour (Dey Street Books), hit bookshelves in December.

Von Teese’s life reads like a Horatio Alger story with a saucy twist. At the age of 16, when she was still simply Sweet, she began working at a clothing store specializing in lingerie. Surrounded by the kind of lacy luxury that featured so prominently in the glamorous 1940s films her mother had introduced her to, Von Teese became inspired to learn all the ins-and-outs of intimate apparel. She worked at that shop until she went to college to study "Historic Costuming.” After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles and began working as a costume designer.

It wasn't until December of 2002 that the nascent superstar came up with the name Dita Von Teese, a persona she created to accompany her long coveted spread in Playboy. She chose "Dita" as an homage to Dita Parlo, the 1920s silent film actress, but the surname "Von Teese" was more of a happy accident. It was originally Von Treese—a name she plucked from the phonebook—until an editor at Playboy made the all-too-appropriate typo. The name stuck.

In short order, Dita Von Teese became an international sensation, parlaying her success as a performer and trendsetter into a booming business. She has designed lingerie and loungewear collections, created makeup and perfume lines, and written books that celebrate women and offer fresh perspectives on traditional notions of beauty. On the pages of glossy magazines and fashionable websites, she is unmistakable. You won't see Von Teese out and about without her signature look: a feline flick, crimson lips, and her striking blue-black cheveux, always perfectly coiffed. She still does her own hair, makeup, and styling, and she takes great care of her alabaster skin. The only mark upon her body is a tattooed beauty spot at the top of her left cheekbone—a nod to the sultry starlets of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Ask her about red lipstick and the sex symbol opines with scholarly precision. There is matte, which she prefers, or glossy. There is blue-red and orange-red, which she likens to a tomato and says is best kept for the summertime. Then there is the semi-permanent Lip-Ink, a product praised by thespians and porn stars alike. Her favorite red is her own, "Von Teese" by MAC, which is already sold out in Europe; other reliable options include Maybelline’s “Red Revival” and YSL’s “Rouge Pur Couture.” She refuses to be seen without a splash of one of the aforementioned hues. For Dita, red means go.

All of this and more can be found in Von Teese’s latest book, which delves into the history of makeup, the tricks of the trade, skincare, nutrition, and plastic surgery. Her aim, she says, is to celebrate beauty in all of its diversity. Von Teese insists that she doesn't want readers to recreate the looks that work for her, but rather, to embrace their own innate sense of style and self-expression.

"I remember watching 'Phil Donahue' when I was younger and being disappointed by the makeover specials,” Von Teese says. “They would take these truly exquisite women who had maintained their hair and makeup routines for 20 to 30 years and give them a 1980s revamp. I always cringed at the uncomfortable expression on their faces when their makeovers were unveiled.”

Von Teese draws inspiration from fashion iconoclasts such as Luisa Casati, Anna Piaggi, and Isabella Blow. The fashion flock, in turn, look to Von Teese to set their style compasses. She regularly appears in the front row at Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Marc Jacobs shows. Recently, she performed at the opening of the new Louis Vuitton flagship store in Paris, and took the stage at a show for Cartier in Bulgaria, where she emerged from a life-size version of the jeweler’s iconic red box, drenched in diamonds. Her next grand spectacle will unfold at the Crazy Horse in Paris this March.

Von Teese attributes her ongoing allure to the increasingly archaic art of seduction. “I put the tease back in striptease,” she says succinctly. But that assessment is a serious understatement. Dita Von Teese has taken history, brought it back to life, placed it in an entirely new context, and made it her own. She knows how to inspire desire and she always leaves her audience begging for more. Her approach may be a blast from the past, but this bewitching goddess is aiming full-throttle towards the future.

By Brandon Palas for Semaine




Dita's Beauty Secrets

Dita shares her top 3 beauty secrets and her must have essentials exclusively with Semaine.

1) "Be the most authentic version of yourself -- always! -- aside from what other people might think. You know yourself better than anyone. And remember to take criticism with a grain of salt. You could be a ripe, juicy peach and there will still be someone who doesn't like peaches."

2) "I always say that practice makes perfect. That is truly the most important thing. Do not decide that you want to "try" a high-glamour look for a special occasion. You should practice it on ordinary days in order to get it right and to perfect the look."

3) "When choosing a red lipstick that you don't want to smear or transfer, try Lip-Ink. It's a truly indelible color. It should stay on through anything. It's perfect if you're in a new relationship and afraid of getting lipstick all over your date. It stains the lips but nothing else. It can withstand a heavy makeout session or a full-blown night of passion."

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Dita's Guide to Paris

In anticipation of her upcoming appearance this March at the legendary Crazy Horse in Paris, Dita shares her carnet of her favourite addresses in the city of light and a few of her travel secrets.

One Thing I Always Travel With:

"I always travel with my full beauty kit. Since I do my own glam it is essential that I have all of my favorite products and tools to work with. I have a bag packed that never gets unpacked. And also, my fragrance: Erotique. It's generally the one I wear every day; I love the smell of it. And no matter where I am or where I go, I always smell like me."

In-Flight Routine:

"I always wear something that is comfortable. Rachel Pally is a designer that makes long, goddess-style glamour gowns out of really-soft cotton. It's almost like wearing a negligee, only less risque. They're great for wearing on an airplane and I don't necessarily have to change my clothes when I arrive at the destination."

Landing Routine:

"I always wash my face with cool water and my Eminence Stone Crop Gel Wash and brush my teeth with my Aquafresh Extreme Clean paste. I throw my hair up into a chignon or twist, put on a sweep of face powder, a red lip, some sunglasses, et voila!"

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Hotel Raphael

17 Avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris

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Les deux abeilles

89 Rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris

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Dita's Sexy Songs

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A day with Dita


"Admittedly, I like to lay in bed for a little while upon waking; to leisurely open my eyes to the morning light whilst wrapped in my favorite Matouk cotton sheets (they're currently in the process of creating a bespoke set of monogrammed pillowcases, sheets and a bedspread just for her)."


"I glance over and reach for my iPhone 6S in order to check my emails. At about the same time, my 12-year-old cat, a Devonshire Rex named Aleister, climbs onto the bed and perches directly onto my head, which is no small feat. Aleister weighs 12lbs -- it's like balancing a stack of books -- he's kind of a big deal."


"I step out of bed, into my favorite bunny slippers (made by my friend Catherine D'Lish), throw on a robe from my personal collection, Dita Von Teese, and make my way to the bathroom for my morning beauty ritual. First, I brush my teeth with Aquafresh Extreme Clean (I like it really minty!) and wash my face with cold water and Eminence Stone Crop Gel Wash. Every couple of days I like to exfoliate my skin with Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant to help lift the debris. Then, I moisturize, which is a daily affair. I like Retrouve Revitalizing Eye Concentrate and Eminence Linden Calendula Cream for my face. It's a really heavy moisturizer and not for everyone but I like to stay really hydrated, nearly dewy."


"I venture downstairs to the kitchen to make my favorite green smoothie inspired by Kimberly Snyder's book "Beauty Detox Foods". She insists that you keep it seventy-percent greens and thirty-percent fruits; a method that works well for me. It's quite simple: green apple, pear, celery, parsley or cilantro, romaine lettuce, spinach, water, et voila! Sometimes I like to mix it up a bit and make my own version, adding spinach or mango or banana. I always like to change it up because I've been drinking it for a few years now, daily."


"It is essential that I workout daily. It helps me to stay focused and energized throughout the day if I start by getting my blood pumping a bit. After breakfast, if my schedule allows it, I make my way to change into my workout gear: a simple, fitted black or white t-shirt with a high-waisted legging; its my uniform. I slip on some ballet flats, throw on an overcoat if it's necessary, which is rare in sunny California, and make my way out the door."

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"Before leaving the studio, I like to freshen up a bit. Heaven forbid someone snap a shot of me looking wet-and-weathered after a proper workout. It's quite simple: I rinse my face with cold water, add a light layer of tinted sunscreen (I like MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme SPF 50), a touch of moisturizer, and a light layer of MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder. I always throw on a red lip before I go anywhere -- my favorite is my shade for MAC called "Von Teese", which is already sold out in Europe! -- throw my hair into a quick twist or a chignon, put on some sunnies and I'm out the door."


"Danielle and I like to get food after class. It's important that we re-fuel our bodies in order to replenish the vitamins and nutrients that we utilized as fuel during the class. Our favorite place is called Stamp Proper Foods, which is nearby in Los Feliz. I enjoy getting the lentils and eggs or the avocado salad. I like to keep it light and flavorful. I've pretty much had everything on the menu once because I go there so often. I'm a regular."


"After I drop Danielle off -- I make my way back home, to my office, in order to get back to business. Now I actually have to respond to those emails that I read while I was languidly laying in bed with Aleister atop my head. I'm always working on a new project, sometimes a few at a time. Whether it's a lingerie collection, a makeup line, or researching material for my book, I like to stay busy and creatively inspired."


"An important part of my afternoon ritual is to sit with a warm cup of tea. After spending hours focused on work-related items and making progress on whatever project it is that I have at the time, tea takes me back to my center. I love macha tea -- it gives me energy. I only drink coffee when it's dire straights and I really need to light a fire under my ass, but I'm really more of a tea drinker. I like the selection from Mariages Freres; a tea company founded in 1854. I re-up my resources whenever I am in Paris. It's important to stock up on the items you love that are not readily available. My favorite flavors are: Lapsang Souchong, Serenade and Wedding Imperial. I like to use my Franz Collection vintage teacups."


"I've been moving so I spend an hour or two per day reorganizing my belongings and turning this new house -- a 1920s Tudor Revival in Los Feliz -- into my home. Lining the bookshelves with some of my favorite tomes, hanging wall art, placing pillows, whatever is necessary to do that day."

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"If I have an event to go to in the evening, which is more often than not, I typically venture out to my storage space for an outfit to wear. I have a huge archive of vintage pieces that I've collected over the years, so that's where I like to go shopping. I don't really shop for vintage much anymore because I already own such a wide-range of items; a proper collection. If I do go on the hunt, I like to visit the Vintage Expo, which takes place twice a year in Downtown Los Angeles. This year I had my own booth there where I sold pieces I've been collecting for over 25-years but no longer have the space for. It's important to refine and edit every so often. Out with the old, in with the new. I also sell pieces on Depop.com."


"My boyfriend typically gets home around 7:00/7:30PM. We truly enjoy spending time together and some of the time best spent is in the kitchen. I cook a lot of things from Kimberly Snyder's book "Beauty Detox Foods" because I like to feed myself and those I love with food that is light, flavorful, organic, and pure. My Vitamix is one of my most-prized possessions. Aside from a morning smoothie, I like to use it to make raw soups. I typically don't eat meat during the day but will save it for the evening. I enjoy making a traditional, roasted chicken. I just got an AGA stove for the new kitchen and it brings me great joy to put it to good use. It's a classic piece and aesthetically beautiful."


"I love baking pies. Although I don’t have a sweet tooth I always like to finish the meal with something sweet (but just a touch of sweet). I have a new specialty that I really enjoying making: a baked apple wrapped in pie crust. Sometimes I'll make a lattice-design across the top of the apple or I'll just wrap the entire thing. Add a little sugar, some cinnamon, and there you have it! A simple, light, and delicious treat. It's my new favorite."

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"I like to finish my day with an evening bath. It helps me to unwind, decompress, and relax to the max. I have a really beautiful bathtub now -- a white, clawfoot tub that has jacuzzi bubbles. For the last 10-years I lived in a house that only had a stand-up shower and a really boring, blase bathtub. It was not very fun. In my new house I have a glamorous bathroom and rightfully so! I like to add Epsom salt and essential oil -- i.e. lavender, pine, eucalyptus, or rose -- to the water, which enhances the experience. A sweet addition is REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil. Trust me on this."


"After a nice soak, I immediately slip into my new collection of lounge wear, the Dita Von Teese collection. I figure I am the best person to test the products. To feel the fit, the fabrics, and how it wears. I like to sit for a few moments in silence while I autograph copies of my new book "Your Beauty Mark" and sign posters or 8x10s to specific people. I like to dedicate those things to fans and supporters of mine with a special message. It is an archaic practice, I know, but I like the traditionalism of it. Sometimes I place lipstick prints on them as well."


"The bed is made for two things: sleeping and sex. I don't believe in reading in bed or performing any activity outside of those two things. If I am going to be in bed, I am there for a reason."

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With love,

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