Dancing in giant martini glasses or performing a Sally Rand-inspired feather fan dance may make Dita Von Teese seem like yet another Vegas showgirl, but the vaunted beauty is no flash-in-the-pan celebrity enjoying her 15 minutes of fame.
Costume designer, model, entrepreneur, author and occasional actress, the multifaceted talent is a cultural icon. No one since Gypsy Rose Lee has done more to elevate the profile of burlesque (as an art form) than the 41-year-old from the American mid-west.
Long enamored by Hollywood’s golden era, Bettie Page, tattoos, vintage lingerie and Chinaware, Von Teese’s sets are known to be ornate, her costumes Swarovski-adorned and her cocktail glasses sized for bathing in. Yes, the Queen of Burlesque quite literally puts the “tease back into striptease” (her words not ours).
But, pray tell, what does Von Teese prefer to fill her cocktail glass with?
You’ve been the global brand ambassador of Cointreau since 2007. Why is working with the 150-year-old liqueur brand such a natural fit?
Well, I always knew that I would eventually team up with a spirit brand…it seemed obvious since I’m known for bathing in giant cocktail glasses. I have certainly been approached by many brands, but Cointreau was the first that I felt had the kind of sophisticated approach that suited me. I loved all the ideas they had about being true to their incredible history and elegant style, but with a modern touch. This is what my own burlesque shows are all about ― being knowledgeable and true to a history, while reinventing it.
When do you usually indulge in a drink?
I usually have a cocktail before my shows. It's kind of a tradition for me.
Which cocktail do you swear by?
In honour of my love of Parisian fashion, I created the Cointreau Prêt à Boire Fizz, a little play on fashion lingo meaning “ready to drink”. It's made with Cointreau, fresh lime juice, club soda, fresh rosemary and apples. I love the unique combination of apples and rosemary because it complements the natural bittersweet and orange flavours of Cointreau. It’s simple to make, refreshing without being too heavy or too sweet and since Cointreau is 80 proof (40 percent alcohol), you don’t have to add any other spirit.
You’ve mentioned before the idea of “becoming more Parisian than a Parisian”, why so?
Ah, well I always felt that my most "Parisian" friends living in Paris were imports from other countries! They’re the ones who seem the most mythical and the most glamorous.
What is the most covetable pair of shoes in your closet?
There are a lot of pairs that Christian Louboutin has made especially for me that I wear over and over and over, and they are usually in basic black with a perfectly shaped heel. I’m a big fan of the simple black pump. I don’t have a favourite pair because all the shoes that I wear on stage that he made me are very special to me. No one else in the world has a pair like them!
You always look so effortlessly classy attired in Christian Dior, John Galliano, Elie Saab and so forth. But are there any Asian labels you particularly adore?
I have to say that I really love traditional Asian attire. I love almost any kind of traditional dress, actually. It's usually quite feminine and glamorous.
Cointreau Prêt à Boire Fizz
5 cl Cointreau
2 cl fresh lime juice
3 slices of tart apple
7 leaves of fresh rosemary
10 cl sparkling water
Muddle the apple and rosemary in the bottom of a glass. Add Cointreau and lime juice with ice, top off with sparkling water and stir briefly. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of apple.