Born in a small town in Michigan and raised in a historic antique-filled home, Dita Von Teese's longtime fascination with 1940s cinema and classic retro style has made her name and image synonymous with classic vintage glamour.
As a very young girl, Dita became enchanted by the films and stars of Hollywood's Golden Age and spent her childhood dreaming of the high pastiche elegance of 1940s glamour and it's stars like Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable. It's no wonder that her childhood fondness for the beauty of yesteryear led her to be revered as not only the most celebrated vintage pinup model and burlesque star, but as one of Hollywood's most glamorous women.
At age twelve, she moved out west from Michigan to Orange County, California with her parents and two sisters. Her teen years were spent continuing the classical ballet training she has studied since the age of four, and at age thirteen, she danced as a soloist with a local ballet company. She idolized Cyd Charisse, a well known film star during the 1950s who was famous for using her classical ballet training for risqu頤ance numbers, epitomizing the classic femme fatale...an image Dita longed to grow up to be. For Dita, the appeal of mid nineteenth century glamour carried on into her adulthood, and she began collecting vintage clothes from the 1920s through the 1950s and learned about the details of dressing vintage from head to toe. She soon discovered that not only were women impeccably dressed, but that the underpinnings of the era were divine! In fact, her interest in elegant lingerie led her to pursue her first job at age 15 at a luxury lingerie boutique where she went on to become not only an excellent salesperson, but the shop's buyer of high end lingerie.(Not to mention collector!)
In college, she studied historic costuming and had aspirations to work as a stylist for period films, but eventually found a niche for her love of vintage elegance as a model specializing in cheesecake. Her love of feminine finery, particularly of classic seamed stockings and garters soon inspired her to acquire the ultimate lingerie piece?.a Victorian corset! Having also admired the look of corsets in the films and photos set in the 1800s, she would have no idea at that time that her desire to tight-lace at age eighteen would lead her to a fetish boutique specializing in this type of exotic apparel. It was during one of her many visits to this fetish shop when she first saw an image of Bettie Page by famed artist Olivia. In 1991, Dita set out to recreate some of Bettie's intriguing images in an effort to bring back nostalgic elegance to the pages of fetish magazines. Since then, Ms. Von Teese has often been compared to Bettie not only for her spirit and for her enduring image, but as the premiere fetish supermodel with countless magazine covers and as one of artist Olivia's favorite art muses. Her career as a glamour model skyrocketed, and it wasn't long before she gained worldwide mainstream press for popularizing retro style and vintage eroticism.
Dita Von Teese began one of the very first model websites ever created on the internet, and as the first retro styled pinup on the web, her site contains an extraordinary collection of over 10,000 impeccably self-styled photographs. Some of the best in the business have photographed her, including Ellen Von Unwerth, Dewey Nicks, Juergen Teller, P.R Brown, Rankin, Lionel Deluy, Sean McCall, Perou, Christophe Mourthe, Pierre et Gilles and famed artist Gottfried Helnwein. Dita has most recently been seen in major pictorials and on covers for magazines such as Maxim's Blender, GQ, Arena, The Face, Flaunt, The London Sunday Times, Women's Wear Daily, Esquire, Jane, Elle, Harpers & Queen, W, Monte Carlo Style, and Vogue. Known for both her onstage elegance and off, her personal style has gained much attention in the pages of fashion and celebrity magazines.
Dita's career in burlesque began in 1993 as she made a hobby of collecting men's magazines from the 1930s and 40s. In these magazines, there were not only cheesecake photographs of her favorite sex goddesses, but also pages and pages of the burlesque dancers from the era. Dita first began performing her tribute to Sally Rand's feather fan dance at one of the biggest fetish events in the US in 1993, and in 1996, she tipped her hat to striptease icon Lili St Cyr by taking a champagne bath in a crystal-clear glass bathtub. Her unsurpassed showmanship earned her the spotlight as the headlining performer at all three years of Teaseorama, the most highly publicized and attended showcase of the burlesque revival and she has since toured the United States and Europe as a solo performer. In 2002, Dita was singled out with rave reviews from Variety and The Los Angeles Times for her "girl in the glass" solo performances with Carmen Electra's Pussycat Dolls, and the film Charlie's Angels II features a nightclub scene that pays tribute and gives acknowledgment to Dita's trademark act. During a run of performances in Hollywood, Dita caught Hugh Hefner's eye and put her on the cover of Playboy's coveted Holiday Gala issue showing off her astonishing sixteen and half inch corseted wasp-waist and a featuring a fabulously luxurious ten page pictorial of her signature 40's style.
Whether she is lounging on her sparkling crescent moon, riding a brilliant rhinestone-encrusted carousel horse, bathing in a decadent jeweled clawfoot bathtub, or spinning around in a giant filigree sparkling heart, fans of the burlesque resurgence delight at the sophisticated and lavish spectacles that reflect her devotion to details and dedication to the time honored tradition of classic striptease. Dita regularly performs at The Playboy Mansion's special events, and toured the country for their 50th Anniversary tour. She regularly travels worldwide, and has captivated audiences at some of the most exclusive affairs on the planet for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Marc Jacobs, In Style Magazine, Spike TV, Maxim Magazine, MTV, and at the televised New Years Eve and wedding party for The Osbournes. In Fall 2003, she made news with her risqu頢urlesque performances for the fashion set while draped in priceless jewels for a performance at London fashion week's most exclusive party for Garrard Diamonds, the British Crown Jewelers.
Aside from continuing to make personal appearances worldwide and creating images for her website, Dita spends her free time collecting vintage couture hats, art deco era clothing and rare antique books about the history of burlesque and her favorite stars. She drives a restored original 1939 Chrysler New Yorker and is an accomplished ballet, swing and argentine tango dancer. She spends her time off from traveling to relax at home in Hollywood with her fianc頍arilyn Manson, their two Devonshire Rex cats Lily and Aleister, and two dachshunds Greta and Eva.
"Not since Bettie Page has a fetish model inspired such passion as covergirl Dita Von Teese."
- Playboy Magazine