On the cusp of launching her new book Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, Dita von Teese is a elegant chameleon. She’s done everything from designing lingerie to dominating the burlesque scene to collaborating with MAC on, what else, a red lip stick. She is synonymous with elegant, graceful glamour in a way we haven’t seen since the starlets she calls inspirations. von Teese, who is as gorgeous in person as you’d expect, sat down with me to chat up her amazing new book at Bloomingdales in NYC.
Your Beauty Mark is the beauty book everyone who wants to rebel against convention needs. It’s about settling into your own skin and embracing it, with glamour and poise. Here’s what The Queen of Glamour herself had to say.
The Gloss: Your first book was really about your background in the amazing art of Burlesque, while this one focuses on beauty and fashion and body image. What inspired you to sit down and write about your knowledge of the beauty space?
Dita von Teese: Well, I felt like I wanted to write a book I would’ve loved to have when I was first starting to playing with makeup and wanted to get a classic Hollywood look. I wanted to write a book that I would’ve appreciated having, because back then, I couldn’t Google things, I couldn’t watch tutorials. I just had to look at photos of classic Hollywood stars and figure it out. I wanted to write the book that would sort of do that and also a book that was a little autobiographical and explain how I found confidence through glamour. A book that’s sort of the antidote to modern day beauty books that are usually about how to look natural and all these beauty rules. I just wanted to write something that was the opposite of that.
The book is for those who enjoy breaking beauty rules, which I think is such an amazing message. Is there a beauty rule that you love breaking more than others? Or is there one that you absolutely adhere to?
DvT: I like breaking the rule, there’s one they always say, you shouldn’t wear a strong eye with a bold lip. They say that in beauty magazines or beauty books and then you turn the page and there’s this you know, this beauty ad that shows both and you’re like ‘Well, why can’t I do that? Is it against the law to do that?’ so that’s one that has always stood out for me. Or ‘Your red lip shouldn’t be perfect.’ Well, yes it should be perfect! It should be perfect.
And ones you totally adhere to?
DvT: Wear sunscreen. It’s like, the really important basics. So, wear sunscreen, beauty sleep, hydration, don’t smoke cigarettes, all those basics that we all should know about. They’re real. They really work.
I was reading and you said that if your friends don’t take their makeup off before they sleep, you put a makeup remover wipe on their face.
DvT: Oh yeah, I just drop that makeup wipe on their face and say ‘Wipe your makeup off.’
We all know you for your iconic pin up style and red lip. Is there another style or trend that you have always wanted to try?
DvT: I admire it all the time. I love seeing all the vibrant hair colors and I think it’s beautiful and amazing. I wish i could do it! I think it’s really great. I see some amazing things that people are doing, it’s really incredible. And the twists on my kind of makeup: the cat eye, the bold makeup, and I see people doing it in amazing ways. One thing I’m obsessed with, I love girls with dark skin that wear really vibrant eyeshadow and a powerful, vibrant neon lip color. I love that look so much.
You mention Mae West a lot as being one of your inspirations when it comes to working out and staying in shape. I’m not as familiar with her as I am as say, Marilyn Monroe. Can you tell us what makes her such an inspiration of yours?
DvT: Well one thing that I love about Mae West was, I mean, she was just so clever. She was the only actress that I can think of in all of history that wrote every line she ever said in a film or in a play. She was so clever. When you Google Mae West quotes, and they’re just so great, and they’re all real. She wrote these things that just like, it’s never ending. She was a genius, a comic genius. And I love her for that, because I can’t think of anyone else that does that. I lover her because she made her first film at 40, and was the biggest sex symbol. So imagine that. She just trumped all the young things, she was the It Girl at the time and it’s pretty cool you could do that at age 40.
Your MAC collaboration is set to launch in a few days and I know I’m not alone in saying that I’m dying of anticipation. What was it like working with MAC on something as iconic as a red lip color?
DvT: Well, I have such a relationship with MAC because I was the MAC Viva Glam girl for two years, so I really have always enjoyed working with the MAC team. So, when they offered to do a lipstick to support my book, I was really excited. And of course they had to be red, and of course they had to be matte, because I love their matte formulas. I think they’re really great. So, I chose a kind of pinkish toned matte red, and yeah, it was really nice to have their support. Because the book is very much for the MAC girl.
For obvious reasons, if you were on a desert island and had to chose one red lipstick, which tube would it be?
DvT: Well, I think it would be awesome to have mine! It’s called “von Teese” and it can double as a blush and it’s just great.
Your lingerie designs are always so beautiful and glamourous. What goes into designing a lingerie line that so accurately reflects you as a person?
DvT: A lot of it is inspired by things in my vintage lingerie collection. So, I’ve been collecting for two decades and I still am pursuing the flea markets and eBay and Etsy, and finding treasures and taking those and taking little inspirations from them and finding ways to modernize them and make them more wearable. It’s to show people they should be wearing lingerie because they genuinely enjoy it and it’s not something you should put on for someone else or for sedcution. I mean, it’s great to use lingerie for seduction, but the key in really mastering the art of seduction is getting to the point that you understand that what makes you seductive is things that seem to be natural or become natural and that give you confidence. And that’s when someone ultimately is ultimately sexy and seductive. To seduce someone, is to make someone want to be part of your world, it’s not to try and do what they want you to do. It’s something different you have to reverse.
So, what’s next for you?
DvT: Well, I’m always designing the lingerie, it’s my first priority. but I’m working on some new [burlesque] shows for next year.