Dita Von Teese And The Runway’s Return To Glamour

Dita Von Teese, burlesque star, reminded us in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the modern fashion runway actually originates from burlesque. “Someone pointed out to me that Gaultier is the last designer to present the couture show on an actual stage-style runway, as all the other shows feature the models walking on the floor just in front of the guests,” she said. “The runway was actually invented for burlesque in the 1930s, and then borrowed much later on in fashion, so this is a tradition that I love!”


Dita Von Teese and the Runway's Return to Glamour 1

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On Wednesday, Von Teese walked the Jean Paul Gaultier couture runway she’s been a frequent muse for Gaultier, first walking for his haute couture show in 2007 during Paris Fashion Week.); the night before, she appeared in the French designer’s foray into musical theatre, titled Fashion Freak Show (she’s doing seven incendiary burlesque performances for the production inspired by Gaultier’s life, from his childhood and relationships to bringing his punk-couture vision to Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour and the film The Fifth Element). 

Dita Von Teese and the Runway's Return to Glamour 2

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But the Queen of Burlesque’s relationship with fashion started over a decade earlier; in 2004, she walked the runway for former club kid Richie Rich, whose label Heatherette was modeled at the time by an eclectic assortment of celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Naomi Campbell, and Anna Nicole Smith (imagine them all together in a room!).


The mid-aughts were particularly enamored of Von Teese’s giant martini-glass glamour. She was married to Marilyn Manson, appeared in a Green Day video (VERY mid-2000s!), and showed up at the finale of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. Her connection with the fashion world was also at its strongest, with runway appearances at Giambattista Valli’s Fall 2006 show and Moschino Cheap & Chic’s Fall 2006/2007 show.


Dita Von Teese and the Runway's Return to Glamour 3

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Von Teese’s instantly recognizable style—those corsets, that Veronica Lake hair—feels oddly refreshing to see on the runway again. If Von Teese is the modern-day “last word on glamour,” as RuPaul once called her, then she’s the perfect fit for couture’s current interest in well-tailored excess (see: Balmain’s Swarovski-encrusted white suits) and the sort of romantic beauty (Valentino!) that brought Celine Dion to tears. This season, the runways felt like stages which—like burlesque—is exactly the escape we all crave. 

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