“There’s a lot of people capitalizing on stuff that I popularized,” Von Teese says regards her new ventures, “and I thought I’d get in on it. I’m trying to put my brand stamp on things that make sense. I have my perfume now, and my makeup, and with the dress line, I’m not trying to be a designer, I’m just straight up saying, ‘Here’s the original that I copied it from. Here’s the modern version.’ I’ve been collecting vintage for years, and with this, I went into my closet, and said, ‘Let’s do this up to a size 16, and make it wearable for the contemporary woman. And I started at a higher price, but I’m working to refine the line and make it more affordable.”
Ah, refinement. Von Teese exudes the shit. Her home, for instance, boasts impeccable design; there’s lush designer wallpaper and exotic rugs, a kitchen that showcases gorgeous culinary machinery designed to last a few centuries, stylish china, sculptures, custom furniture, and at present, a massive, stuffed peacock monitoring our exchange. We discuss the ’cock, as it were, and its thick-headed influence on what’s desirable. “I’ve started really refining what I’m looking for, on what’s sexy,” Von Teese shares on relationships, and how slivers of time she rarely has wholly to herself are spent. “I think a lot of people think me demanding, or intimidating, or whatever, but I’m increasingly vulnerable around those I choose to be around. Vulnerability is strength, though, I think.”
Von Teese, a Michigan native, saw her career as the world’s most sought after burlesque performer commence in Orange County strip clubs, where her vulnerability was surely coarsely tested. “I was being fun and creative,” she says, “and doing what I thought was ‘documenting my youth.’ It’s crazy the way you think when you’re twenty years old.”
Time on the planet’s now doubled and Von Teese’s absurdly perfect silhouette drapes bottles of Perrier, she’s flown to Paris for couture week, and admirers young and old continue to adore her. But it ain’t all wet martinis. “People don’t know the suffering that goes into what you see,” she says. “People have no idea what hours I keep. They think I just throw on rhinestone outfits and show up for my show. Or that I just sign off on sketches for my dresses, or my lingerie. That’s not the case … I do feel like an expert on lingerie, though, and I know what’s missing from the marketplace, or what makes a special piece, and I’m really snobby about fit, and function, and shape, and obviously, glamour, so it’s very special to me—it’s a lot of work. And my line is affordable. And that means a lot to me—to put the time into making it so that it doesn’t alienate people.” With that, a Sunday afternoon vortex-worth of other stuff that won’t, and can’t, see print begins [The three-hour transcript, readers, will be auctioned off years from now to accommodate ballooned Ph.D. borrowings or garish plastic surgery; a picnic either way].