Burlesque queen and longtime LOOK girl crush, Dita Von Teese, definitely knows a thing or two about underwear. She does, after all, spend most of her time in it, and has her very own, super sultry range which has just had its own pop-up shop in Selfridges. So who better to talk us through all things underwear, from finding the perfect set to styling it up as outerwear and why it doesn’t always have to be matching. Yes, really!
What is the secret to finding perfect underwear Dita?
I think it’s important to be open to trying new things, and it’s also important to know your correct sizes. I love glamour in everyday life, so I have always shopped for lingerie that is both glamorous and functional, and of course, it has to fit well. You can have it all – one does not have to sacrifice fit for glamour. When I would find a beautiful and great fitting bra that works for me, I would always purchase a variety of different shapes of that underwear. I buy the thong, bikini and full brief not just for versatility, but also to prolong the life of the set, because underwear gets laundered more often than the bra. It makes sense to buy duplicates.
Do you have a favourite set from your new collection?
My favourite things from the new collection are the loungewear pieces that have just gone into Selfridges. A few years ago, some of my most treasured vintage lingerie pieces were lost in the mail when I sent them to my design team in Australia, and I was devastated! This new collection contains the reproductions of those pieces, so they’re very dear to me. Some of those vintage items I had were so beautiful, but so fragile. They were ultra-rare, museum-worthy vintage lingerie pieces, things that in all my years of collecting, I know I’ll never find again! Now, I am thrilled to have pristine, and most importantly, very wearable versions of these things back in my life, and available to other lingerie aficionados. I love my “Beau Bait” and “Coquette” negligées, and my long glamorous “Pom Pom” robe. I just received everything from the collection in my size, and I am so excited to wear it!
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Who could you imagine wearing the collection?
I think my lingerie collection is designed for anyone who wants to have glamour in everyday life…and, admittedly the collection is designed for myself as well! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been in love with lingerie as a symbol of femininity and womanhood. My lingerie collection is for those of us who revel in being a woman. I believe a woman should honour herself with nice lingerie that makes her feel sexy and confident; it shouldn’t be something to be put on for a man. I believe in the everyday cultivation of sensuality… If you want to be a seductress of the highest level, you have to understand what it really is to be sexy… it’s not about aiming to please other people, or thinking about what pleases another. A great seductress surrounds herself with beauty and pleasure, and others are seduced by this world that she creates and long to be invited into her world. I have always believed that lingerie can be a great tool of seduction, but the wonderful thing is that we are living in a time where we don’t have to choose between everyday lingerie and lingerie for seduction.
Who or what inspires your designs?
I am inspired by vintage details from my vast collection of vintage lingerie. I adore lingerie from eras gone by, but I also appreciate modern shapes and technological advances in construction of lingerie. I am inspired to capture the beauty of retro style, but I believe in reinventing it in a modern and functional way. I’m also sometimes inspired by things I see in fashion; for instance when I go to the couture shows in Paris, I might see a beautiful and priceless gown, and I might create lingerie that is inspired by the colour, or the lace, or design details. I also love to post photos on my Instagram account and ask people what their favourite colours for lingerie are, or which colour I should design next in the most popular styles, like my Madame X collection.
Underwear as outerwear has become such a big trend. Are there any pieces from the range that would work for this? If so, how would you style them?
I do love lingerie as outerwear… I am especially fond of my Dahlia bodysuit as a statement piece. I love to wear bustiers with high waisted pencil skirts and cardigan sweaters. It’s chic to wear a fetishistic bra peeking out of a tuxedo jacket…I love a touch of something ultra-feminine with menswear. Lingerie allows you to have a secret persona that can be totally different from your usual fashion style…and I love letting a bit of contrasting lingerie showing. It adds interest and intrigue…
Describe the Dita Von Teese lingerie girl…
I guess she’s like me! She believes in the power of glamour to transform and give confidence; she doesn’t wait for someone to give her glamour, she makes it for herself, and finds ways of infusing glamour in her everyday life…like with lingerie and red lipstick, for instance. She also knows that glamour has nothing to do with wealth, age, size, shape or ethnicity. Glamour is for anyone who wants it. If you desire it, create it!
Do you always wear matching underwear?
I used to be fanatical about always having matching underwear… In fact, when I was in high school and worked in a lingerie store, the girls in the locker room would make fun of me for always having matching underwear. To me, it seemed like the most normal thing in the world! I never equated having nice, matching lingerie with seduction, or thought much about who was seeing it; I just loved how it felt to be dressed to the nines, and I loved having a colourful drawer full of lingerie to suit my whims. Now, with drawers full of my own designs, I find it difficult sometimes to find the matching underwear to the bras that I wear! It’s a problem I have now that I never had before…my lingerie collection has become vast because I wear everything I design!
Would we ever find a pair of basic, white cotton knickers in your underwear drawer?
No, I have to tell the truth; I really don’t have any underwear like that. But I think that with all the black lace, garter belts, and luxurious lingerie I have my wardrobe, my boyfriend would probably notice more if I put a pair of white cotton basic underwear on! It’s a bit like that for me, I have conditioned the men in my life to think of black suspenders and stockings as normal attire for everyday, so it doesn’t quite have the same effect…so sometimes I try to hold back my vibrant reds, pinks and other colors. I adore black lace lingerie, it’s so classic, sophisticated and erotic all at once, and it suits a woman of any age. Every woman needs to have the perfect black lace set, complete with suspender belt…it’s required!