Three decades into her burlesque career, Dita Von Teese is busier than ever.
In September — the same month she celebrated her 50th birthday — the striptease queen popped up in the buzzy thriller “Don’t Worry Darling,” perched in a larger-than-life Champagne coupe.
The following month, she made a shimmering cameo in Taylor Swift’s “Bejeweled” music video, performing her famed martini glass routine alongside the pop superstar.
And now, Von Teese is heading into the homestretch of her Glamonatrix Tour, which stops at the Beacon Theatre in New York City tonight.
“Honestly, what I’m doing now, I couldn’t have done when I was in my 20s,” Von Teese tells Page Six Style of her jam-packed schedule.
“I think it’s important for women to see examples of other women holding their power, embracing their sensuality at every age. It’s not easy to describe or explain how something like striptease can be empowering … you just have to see it.”
Below, the modern-day pinup dishes on the dazzling costumes for her latest revue, her age-defying skincare secrets, teaching Swift a “PG-rated version” of her signature stage move and why she’s not planning to hang up her nipple tassels anytime soon.
Page Six Style: With a name like Glamonatrix, this tour has to have incredible costumes. What inspired these looks, and do you have any personal standouts?
Dita Von Teese: ‘”Glamonatrix’ is a term I came up with to describe the power of glamour. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been fascinated by art and vintage photos that depict fetishism, particularly the idea that certain types of clothing are considered risqué and create desire beyond just sex.
“The tiger tamer costume is a favorite, especially the incredible boots Christian Louboutin created for it. He also did a pair of crotch-high patent leather Victorian-style button-up fetish boots in the spirit of John Willie, complete with spinning spurs. Christian and I have a lot of fun coming up with fantasy footwear that is truly museum-worthy, and downright precarious to walk in!”
Speaking of Louboutins, your collection is the stuff of legend. How many pairs do you have at this point, and how did you two first start working together?
“I have no idea how many I own, but as a good friend of his, I would just say: I am very well-heeled. I’m too busy counting my blessings to count shoes! I started wearing his heels when he first came on the scene — when one would go to Neiman Marcus, and they were maybe two pairs to choose from. I spotted that red sole immediately and bought my first pair.
“I met him years later, around 2002 … and not long after that, we became fast friends and he started making custom shoes for my performances. In fact, his first Swarovski-crystallized shoe came about when he gave me a pair to dance in, and my costume designer, Catherine D’Lish, completely smothered them in Swarovski crystals.
“As time went by, every time I would do a new costume, I would send him all of the sketches and Swarovski colors, and he would make extravagant feats of footwear for my shows. The ones I wear on this tour are definitely the most outrageous he’s ever made.”
You’ve also collaborated with famed corset maker Mr. Pearl for many years. When Kim Kardashian wore one of his waist-cinchers to the Met Gala, she said she had “never felt pain like that” and took breathing lessons to prepare. How do you deal?
“I don’t wear them day in and day out — I never have — but I’ve always worn them in all my shows. I don’t feel any pain. I never push myself, because I really don’t feel the need to. During the moments where my waist was the smallest — like when I wore the famous butterfly [look] for Jean Paul Gaultier, or when I was on the cover of Playboy in 2002 — those tightlacing moments have been documented. I really don’t care about having the smallest waist anymore.
“For me, it’s just about the beauty of the corset, and in a way, liberating something which at times in history has been taboo. One can see restrictive things as empowering. High heels and corsets are kind of similar in that one could call them restrictive, but you could also feel powerful wearing them.
“I love that things like this have different connotations for different people — just like striptease. It used to be the ‘go-to’ to say that striptease or pole dancing is degrading to women, but you really can’t make that argument anymore. Feminism should ultimately be about having choices and respecting each other’s individual choices, even if they aren’t for you.”
What was it like working with Taylor Swift on her “Bejeweled” visuals, and how did that project come about?
“I got a call from her people about a cameo in her video, and then Taylor got on the phone and she seemed to know everything about what I do, and told me she would love to showcase what I do in her video. You know how it is in show business; a lot of people just stick you on their mood board and are heavily ‘inspired,’ but what I loved is that she was very insistent on shining the spotlight on me, respectfully.
“I pulled out all the stops and worked with her costume designer to pull together the right kind of wardrobe for a PG-rated version of what I do with the martini glass. We used my costume designer, Catherine D’Lish, for all of the Swarovski-crystallized looks featured.
“It was fun for me to share my tips and tricks, and coaching her through a stocking striptease — and of course, seeing her in my one of my martini glasses was a very proud moment. She is a generous and kind person, and clearly knows that sharing the spotlight with other women doesn’t take away from her own fabulousness. She introduced a whole new generation to what I do, so I am very grateful for that.”
It’s hard to believe you just turned 50, because you seemingly haven’t aged in years. Drop the skincare routine, please!
“I am crazy about Retrouvé products — they feel so luxurious. The eye cream is my ultimate, but I use the entire line. It’s thick and rich and satisfies my dry skin. I also use two at-home beauty devices, the Time Master Pro and also TheraFace for microcurrent. I’m not very disciplined with them, but I really like the gentle, quiet percussive massage of TheraFace for my face and head.”
Retrouvé Quartet ($650)
Any beauty must-haves you rely on for your shows?
“My number-one life-changing beauty discovery is Lashify [DIY lash extensions]. I am a natural blonde with skimpy, light lashes, and I have always relied on my cat eyeliner and faux lashes to get my quintessential look.
“I especially love Lashify on tour because I can do my show makeup with glamour lashes, and afterwards, take all the glitter and eyeliner away and I still have my full lashes on for the next few days.”
Lashify Control Kit ($125)
You once said you wanted to retire at 50. I’m guessing you’ve reconsidered that plan?
“I think I’ve been asked about my age and retirement since I was 30. So much needless stress and worry … it’s really a waste of time. And for what? Despite the fear that’s been instilled in me my entire life about aging, I feel it’s important to go through the stages of life, doing what I believe in, for as long as I like it.
“I’m 50, but I feel better and stronger than I ever have … and I’m selling out 3,600-capacity theaters, so it doesn’t seem like the time to stop.”