From lingerie Saleswoman to Burlesque Queen: The Story of Dita von Teese
Categories: FashionBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/from-lingerie-saleswoman-to-burlesque-queen-the-story-of-dita-von-teese
Born in Michigan, Heather Renee Sweet grew up fascinated by the golden age of cinema, pin-up and vintage lingerie. As a child, Heather was unremarkable among her peers, another average girl with blonde hair. Until the age of 15, she was seriously engaged in ballet, at 13 she already staged solo numbers and for a long time wanted to become a ballerina.
On Twitter, Dita von Teese admitted that she is of Armenian descent on her father's side. She stated this during her participation in the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, admiring the performance of the representatives of Armenia - Inga and Anush Arshakyan. Dita von Teese willingly mentions her Armenian roots during various interviews, saying that her grandmother was half Armenian.
Heather was the middle of three daughters of the Sweet family. Parents are Bonnie and Ken Sweet, a machinist and a manicurist. Older sister Sarah has always been active and sometimes too noisy, but this earned her father's favor — Sweet Sr. saw a highlight in her, and Heather considered it too simple. The future von Teese was a mother's daughter — she, like no one else, noticed and understood her mother's passion for beautiful clothes and cosmetics. But the family of the machinist and manicurist could not boast of a good financial situation.
As a child, Bonnie managed to find the perfect game for her daughter: while she was doing the housework, Heather would go into the room and try on her grandmother's dresses, hats and handbags, which were stored in a huge suitcase under her parents' bed. Heather inherited one simple truth from her mother, which she still adheres to: be a woman, enjoy your femininity and shine as much as possible. Heather embodied all of Bonnie's unrealized desire for gloss and chic, becoming the world-famous burlesque queen Dita von Teese.
Found a box of photos of me from my freshman & sophomore year in high school… https://t.co/UYMhqLYJPr
— Dita Von Teese (@DitaVonTeese) May 30, 2013
Even then, being an ordinary teenage girl, Heather became a devoted fan of pin-up. She bought several magazines at a second-hand bookstore. Heather looked at these girls all the time— yes, they were different from mom's idols, but at the same time they were magically carefree and well-groomed to the tips of their fingers.
When Heather turned 15, the family had to move. In a new place, the girl started working in a lingerie store. In college, Sweet studied historical costume and then dreamed of working as a costume designer on film sets. Later, Dita von Teese realizes her dream — today she creates stage images on her own shows.
Since the age of 19, Heather has been working part-time, dancing in nightclubs. During this period, the girl had two jobs at once. After leaving her job at a lingerie store, Heather started working as a consultant at a cosmetics store. During the day she sold lipsticks and advised the ladies which perfumes to choose, and in the evening she danced a striptease at the Captain Cream club.
Heather got a job as a dancer in the Captain Cream strip club, where the basis of her image was born, in 1990. A year later, she took the pseudonym Dita in honor of the movie star of the 20s Dita Parlo. Even then, she understood that simple and soulless undressing to music was not for her and the images that tanned blonde daughters in cowboy boots chose for themselves did not suit her at all. In those years, the girl had already exchanged an expressionless blonde for a blue-black color, which turned her into a woman from another planet. The look of the "American sex dream" of that time did not attract Dita at all, and did not suit her. Then she turned back to her idols — gorgeous and slightly frivolous young ladies from the pages of retro magazines.
She chose outfits that became an important part of the show itself. It was not the fact that the girl was undressing that came to the fore, but the process itself: slightly lowering the long opera glove, pulling off the lace stocking for a long, tedious and elegant time. The audience was delighted.
Just two years later, Dita was covered by a wave of popularity. Each of her performances was a "number" — a carefully orchestrated little sketch, from which it was impossible to take your eyes off. For example, a dance with fans, reminiscent of Japanese geisha. Dita revived this number in honor of its creator, the legendary dancer Sally Rand. When Dita was taking her first steps in her career, it was the memory of Sally Rand that saved her from feeling awkward and ashamed.
In burlesque, Dita began performing not solo, but with a group of dancers who initiated the revival of the genre. Von Teese is still inspired by musicals and movies of the 30s and 40s. Her unique style was inspired by the images of Louise Casati, Anna Piaggi and Isabella Blow.
Dita started injecting Botox early and never hid it. When Hugh Hefner himself came up to her with a martini glass after the presentation of the number, it seems that only the rejuvenating botox helped her maintain her proper equanimity. Then the founder of Playboy offered the dancer to star for the cover of the magazine. Such an event was equivalent to world recognition. Before the photo shoot, Dita flatly refused the services of a stylist and makeup artist. And I did not lose — the image of a sophisticated lady, slightly flirtatious and, of course, incredibly sexy, performed by the former Heather Sweet turned out to be winning as always.
A few days later, Playboy asked Dita for her full name for publication. Then she opened the phone book and, poking at random with a well-groomed finger, chose the name "von Treese" (von Treese). But the editors made a typo, and the magazine came out with the signature Dita von Teese. And at that moment a legend was born.