Fetish queen, fashion avatar, America’s sultry doyenne of burlesque, Ms. Von Teese, nee Heather Sweet of Rochester, Michigan, is the toast of at least one generation of would-be calendar girls.
She is far too canny at this stage to even think of throwing down her scepter. Which may be why, at 40, she redoubled her efforts to cash in on her notoriety by becoming the latest cult phenomenon to turn her name into a brand.
You suspect that her character, part temptress, part old-fashioned girl, has been just as carefully crafted, especially when she talks about love. “I don’t need somebody to buy me things,” she says, and you expect her to croon like an old-time chanteuse. “I just need someone to feel like he’s a man.”
She sounds kittenish, but in fact Ms. Von Teese has been pivotal in the mainstreaming of a fetish aesthetic infiltrating fashion by way of harness belts, leather bras, blackened nails and nickel-studded chokers. She appears to be riding the crest of a widening soft-porn obsession that made an international best seller of a lurid tale of a female submissive. Certainly, she has bewitched the fashion world, gathering admirers like Christian Louboutin, Marc Jacobs (whose front row she has graced) and Jean Paul Gaultier, on whose runway she once performed an exotically elegant strip tease. She has appeared in a MAC cosmetics Viva Glam campaign.
Her act, provocative in an airbrushed sort of way, has emboldened Cointreau, the upscale spirits brand, to name her its global ambassador. Dita Von Teese “The Queen of Burlesque” was born Heather Renee Sweet, 41 years ago in a small city called West Branch in Michigan, Dita Von Teese grew up the world of the Golden Age of Cinema, pin-up imagery, and vintage lingerie. Well-known for her burlesque performances, which she has been practising since 1992, the designer and artist led the full-blown revival of striptease in a yet unseen elegant and sophisticated way.
EDITED by Rocio Hernandez
STORY by Paul G Roberts
NARRATED by Teresia Werner
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