Burlesque bombshell Dita Von Teese may be having a change of heart when it comes to motherhood. Previously, the 41-year-old said of having children, “Maybe it’s in the cards for me or maybe it isn’t, but it doesn’t diminish me as a human being if it’s not.” The provocateur is now reconsidering her ambivalence. “It’s definitely been something that’s on my mind,” she tells. “It’s one of the things that came up in my life; I’ve been thinking about it a lot about since I created this line.”
The line she speaks of, Von Follies, launched last month exclusively atDestination Maternity, Motherhood Maternity, and A Pea in the Pod, and offers new moms a bit of that Von Teese va-va-voom during the nursing phase. But this expansion of the Von Teese empire, which has received some negative press, isn’t a haphazard decision to throw her hat—or tassel—into a new product market. “Personally, I have pondered the conundrum of finding beautiful lingerie at that time,” she says. “I’ve heard of the dilemma that my friends have faced in trying to find bras during the breast feeding phase of motherhood.” And, thus, Von Teese created a seven-piece set of affordable (prices range from $30 to $55) and functionally sexy options for herself and other mothers. In discussing this latest endeavor, Von Teese opens up about the importance of self-seduction, her vintage archive, and whether she supports the #FreeTheNipple movement:
What is your philosophy on lingerie: Is it for us or for the men?
My lingerie lines—even before the maternity bras—are not about seducing men or even being sexy. It’s about bringing beauty and luxury to your every day life, and not storing it on the shelf or putting it on for a man. My relationship with lingerie has always been about self-seduction and what makes you feel good.
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Do you have a favorite piece from the Von Follies collection?
I love wearing fuller briefs. I actually have all the maternity underwear in my own drawer. It’s something that makes me feel good about myself—more so than wearing a tiny little G-string. I always put full briefs in my regular lingerie line, so it was easy to adapt them for the new moms line.
Were you surprised by the backlash from some media outlets?
I knew I would come under a little bit of fire for this collection. Some people solely think beautiful lingerie is for sex, and they can’t understand why someone would wear beautiful things if no one is looking. But then, there’s a whole bunch of us out there who believe in honoring ourselves whether someone is watching or not. Why wouldn’t a new mother enjoy her lingerie, too?
Is there a particular era that influences your designs?
I have a huge archive of vintage lingerie that spans from the early 1900s through the ’60s. I obviously have an obsession with the past—especially the ’30s and ’40s, when glamour was at its peak. With designing for the collection, I look at the details of vintage lingerie—the trims, the lace, and the design ideas—and adapt them to a modern style. There are a lot of people who love vintage lingerie, but you still want those modern touches. I’m never trying to make replicas of what was done in the past. I want to show people a new way of wearing vintage things that are more comfortable and more practical.
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What are your top five vintage spots in shopping for you or your archive?
I buy a lot of vintage from The Vintage Fashion Expo, The Way We Wore, Timeless Vixen, Golyester, and a lot of Etsy and eBay. I’m really good at choosing my keywords.
When did your fascination with lingerie begin?
I started working in a lingerie store as a stockgirl when I was fifteen years old, which sparked my interest. I was fascinated with what lingerie meant for femininity and as a rite of passage for women. It’s really about embracing womanhood. I then began posing and recreating the vintage pinup. And then, I went onto recreate burlesque shows—all because of my love of lingerie. It has led me to where I am now. It’s really the common thread.
Have you been affected by the #FreeTheNipple movement?
I haven’t had too much trouble with that sort of thing—even though I’m known for stripteasing. In my shows, I use nipple tassels and pasties, which were a classic in the ’30s and ’40s, because of censorship laws. I like the aesthetic of it, and I like the tribute to the past. That gets past the #FreeTheNipple problem.
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Do you support the movement—especially its fight to protect mothers’ rights to breastfeed in public?
The fact that people are so offended by [the nipple] is a ridiculous double standard. It’s something I have a hard time understanding because I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe, where the attitude is so different there about women’s breasts. When I’m in the United States, and there’s so much drama surrounding a nipple and the breastfeeding, I roll my eyes. People will always want to be offended by something. They can’t help it. It’s sad, but it’s the way it is. People are dying to have something they are outraged about.
Your glamour empire is vastly expanding. How would you define your brand?
I’m a DIY girl. I’m self-created. Everything I do, I taught myself to do, and I am hands-on with. For example, I don’t work with stylists. I don’t have a hair and makeup team that turns me into Dita Von Teese. I believe in glamour, beauty, and the power of transformation with beauty. All my brands revolve around that. Everything I’ve done—whether it’s the makeup, or my vintage inspired dress collection, or my stocking line, or my lingerie line—they are all things I’ve been obsessed with my whole life. You’ll never see my name slapped on some jeans, or things that won’t make sense for me.
Any words of wisdom on achieving success?
When things come from a place of obsession and true love for a subject, I believe you can achieve greatness.