It would be fair to say that Dita Von Teese is known for her unique sense of style. While the so-called Queen of Burlesque may be famous for wearing relatively little, her wardrobe is actually packed with vintage-inspired pieces with a sexy twist. And though Von Teese’s fashion sense gives fans an insight into the star’s personality, a look inside her home is even more revealing.
Von Teese first rose to prominence in 2002 when she appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine wearing not much other than a corset and some stockings. By that point, the dancer was already dating the metal star Marilyn Manson; later on she would subsequently marry and then divorce him. And these things combined to cement Von Teese’s status as a cult superstar.
But away from her high-profile dating history and sexy photoshoots, Von Teese was capitalizing on her distinctive image. Over the years, the burlesque-star-turned-businesswoman has designed her own range of seductive underwear, written a tome about what makes people beautiful and launched a series of fragrances. And it would seem that her lucrative ventures have enabled her to buy her dream home, which as you might expect, fully reflects her quirky personality.
The home that Von Teese acquired was built in the Tudor Revival style. In keeping with its period-inspired design, the property exudes old-style glamour with its Gothic arches and beamed ceilings. And since the burlesque star got her hands on it, the interior of the house has been given the full-on Von Teese treatment.
Von Teese’s first love, it seems, was vintage. The star said as much when she allowed cameras from Architectural Digest magazine a glimpse inside her home in March 2020. The dancer explained, “I started wearing vintage clothes because I couldn’t afford all the cool designer jeans my friends had.”
Indeed, while Von Teese might be known for her glamorous image today, her background is relatively humble. She was born in Rochester, Michigan, in 1972 before moving to the farming community of West Branch. Back then, she was known as Heather Renée Sweet – the daughter of a machinist and a manicurist.
From an early age, the young Von Teese was seemingly drawn to performing. She studied classical ballet as a child but realized she’d never make it big in the dance discipline as a 15-year-old. Besides, by this point, the teen’s love of bygone glamour had sparked other interests.
Von Teese had grown up watching classic movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age era with her mother. And even as a child, she wanted to emulate the leading ladies of this period. So when Von Teese was a teenager, she took a job selling lingerie, which helped to fund her love of vintage fashion.
Before long, Von Teese had completely transformed her image. She turned from what she described to the Detroit Metro Times newspaper as a “dishwater blonde, mediocre-looking girl” to a raven-haired bombshell. She dressed like an old Hollywood starlet, exuding glamour and sex appeal in equal measure.
Von Teese started using the name “Dita” at 19 when she started stripping. According to legend, she got her stage surname when she appeared in Playboy. Having originally told the magazine she wanted to be known as “Von Treese” a transcribing error saw her billed as “Von Teese” and the name stuck.
It was under this guise that Von Teese came to be hailed as the “Queen of Burlesque.” Building on the exposure that came from her Playboy debut she started performing up and down the country and eventually internationally. By the time 2015 rolled around, Von Teese was performing in front of audiences as large as 3,500.
One of Von Teese’s most famous acts involves her frolicking around in a giant martini glass in the nude. Her highly-stylized burlesque performances often require expert lighting, body makeup and a smattering of feathers and rhinestones to create a coquettish illusion. And often, what little Von Teese did wear on stage took inspiration from the pin-up stars of the past.
In life, as in her art, Von Teese’s image has been carefully crafted. The burlesque star is instantly recognizable thanks to her alabaster skin, ebony-black mane, cherry-red lips and perfectly placed beauty mark tattoo. So it’s hardly surprising that she had become a muse to fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs.
But Von Teese’s influence has extended beyond the world of haute couture. In 2013 the performer released her own collection of dresses, as well as the aforementioned lingerie line, makeup range and fragrances. Elsewhere, as well as her book on beauty, the pinup has published a volume on burlesque and has even ventured into TV, film and music.
It seems that this multi-faceted approach to her career has served Von Teese well. In fact during 2020 the Celebrity Net Worth website put the burlesque star’s wealth at an estimated $16 million. And with some of her fortune, in 2015 Von Teese splashed out on a home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz.
The four-bedroom home Von Teese snagged was nestled in the hills above Los Feliz and was situated close to Griffith Park. Built in the 1920s, the Tudor-styled home boasts three bathrooms and an ensuite and was originally listed at a smidge below $3 million. In the end, Von Teese reportedly paid a cool $2.83 million for the property, which she quickly set about making her own.
Five years after Von Teese moved into her charming period home, she welcomed a film crew from Architectural Digest into her abode to show off the updates she’d made. And it’s fair to say that the extraordinary property is now very much a reflection of the dancer’s unique tastes and personality.
The footage taken of Von Teese’s home appeared on YouTube in March 2020 as part of Architectural Digest’s Open Door series. It has since clocked up well over 2 million views. Meanwhile, the video has also acquired thousands of comments, a number of which praise the star’s eccentric style. But what is all the fuss about?
In the video, Von Teese opens an enormous, wooden front door to Architectural Digest’s team as she welcomes the cameras in. What follows is an assault on the eyes, as it becomes clear that every corner of the star’s home is jam-packed with unusual artifacts – from retro artworks to tons of taxidermy.
Before showing us around her home, Von Teese explains how long she’s lived there and some of the renovation work she’s completed. The burlesque dancer says, “I moved into this 1927 English Tudor about five years ago. When I moved into this house it was all white walls and I really loathe white walls. I love color. I like feeling like all my favorite colors are represented in the house.”
Von Teese’s love of vibrant hues is evident in the hand-painted murals adorning her walls, as well as the jewel tones that make up her chosen palette. And, of course, the pin-up’s passion for retro is also clear to see, as she explains that her love of vintage clothes has “spilled over into collecting vintage and antique things for my home.”
One of the first stops of Von Teese’s house tour is her kitchen. Decorated in English racing green with copper finishes, the room exudes understated glamor. At the heart of the action is a huge Aga stove, which Von Teese admits she installed before realizing she “had to learn how to use.”
Some of the details in Von Teese’s kitchen have been moved directly from her old home, including rose-adorned chandeliers and wall lights, as well as a vintage dining table and chairs. Revealing her inspiration behind the room, she reveals, “I wanted to make a very glamorous kitchen, because no matter what you do, and no matter what your house looks like, everyone hangs out in the kitchen.”
Next up, Von Teese gives us a glimpse of her lavish living room. Here she explains, “I am a maximalist, not a minimalist and this room is evidence of it. I have a lot of stuff.” Among the quirky items on display in this room are a taxidermied tiger wearing a tiara and a number of the star’s vintage treasures.
As with most living rooms though, Von Teese’s also has a couple of retro couches on which to kick back. But it would seem that on this occasion at least, the vintage enthusiast’s pursuit of style has come at a cost. She reveals, “I should say every single sofa in this house is extremely uncomfortable. There’s really nowhere comfortable to sit in this house.”
Moving onto the curiosities perched on the mantelpiece above her grand fireplace, Von Teese reveals, “These are some of my favorite taxidermies in the house.” Pointing out a series of birds, some of which are enclosed in bell jars, the dancer reveals they date from the Victorian era. She adds, “Every time I move house, which is three times in the past 20 years, I hand-carry those myself, because if someone ever shattered those I would be devastated.”
Lining the walls of Von Teese’s living room are shelves filled with vintage and rare books as well as a number of kitsch pieces. There’s also a cabinet stacked with retro feathers and powder puffs, which are a testament to the burlesque artist’s love of old-school style. But the glamour doesn’t end there.
Von Teese’s dining room features a red-painted table frame and chairs, the latter reupholstered with fabric that the dancer found in Paris. By the door is a lipstick dangling from a chain beneath a mirror. Inspired by The Cure frontman Robert Smith, Von Teese reveals she uses it to perk up her pout during parties.
The dining room leads to a patio lined with red geraniums, where Von Teese takes her tea and can enjoy a view over the garden. Down there sits a range of vintage patio furniture which the style icon regularly re-upholsters to reflect her changing tastes. There’s also a pool, which Von Teese reveals “rarely gets used, because it’s freezing.” The corresponding pool house, though, does see a little more action.
That’s because Von Teese has turned her pool house into her very own, British-inspired drinking spot. Explaining the idea behind this, she reveals, “I kind of always envied people who had a Tiki bar or something. So I thought, ‘Well I have an English Tudor, so I should make a pub.” Finishing touches include stained glass windows and a collection of Toby jugs.
Back in the main house, Von Teese takes us down to her “woman-cave/library.” The stairs leading to her lair are adorned with images of herself, as well as some old Hollywood memorabilia including a costume from the film Gypsy and a corset which was worn by Betty Grable in the 1940s.
A corridor leads us down to a sumptuous red sitting room – complete with Art Deco bar – which von Teese describes as “woman cave and TV room.” Here she teases, “I bet you can’t find the TV.” It turns out that the screen is well-hidden behind a piece of art. In order to watch it, the star has to lift the painting up and pull the screen out, before turning it. She adds, “It’s kind of silly, but it is what it is.”
In this room there’s also another collector’s item. Pointing out a pair of heels, Von Teese explains, “These are Bettie Page’s favorite shoes and they came from the Irving Klaw studios which is where she took all those vintage bondage photos.” The dancer also owns a 1952 model release signed by Page, which Von Teese describes as “very simple” and just “four sentences” long.
A staircase leading back up to the main house is lined with vintage artworks, which Von Teese reveals “inspired my pin-up career.” There’s also a Jack Garcia rope tassel which the star brought back from Paris and now uses as a handrail. She says of the item, “I really love it. Every time I walk up here I love the feeling of that rope, if you know what I mean.”
Upstairs in the period home is where Von Teese’s bedroom and closets are located. In one room, the dancer keeps shelves upon shelves of fabulous footwear. She reveals, “I have a very, very close friend who’s a shoe designer. So that’s why I have this many shoes.” The many heels and flats are not only arranged by color but also by their everyday use, whether they’re “show business” and by how prized they are by the burlesque star.
Nearby is Von Teese’s bedroom. Inviting us into her most private of spaces, the starlet explains, “This is my version of minimalism. Light colors, not too much clutter.” It’s here that we’re introduced to her beloved cat Aleister, who’s reclining on a huge white bed. This footage is likely to be some of the last of the feline, who sadly died later in 2020.
Speaking of the item of furniture at the heart of her sleeping space, Von Teese divulges, “I designed this bed after a Mae West bed. Mae West famously had mirrors all over her bedroom.” It turns out that Von Teese had a lot of artistic input in this room, though she admits she is quite particular when it comes to what she wants.
Speaking of a pair of curtains in the bedroom, Von Teese reveals, “I waited for months to get this fabric in and took it to a drapery place and I actually had to go there in person and help pin these [trims] on because they didn’t do it right.” She mischievously adds, “I love going to the workrooms and torturing the people who work there, and they end up liking it in the end because they learn something new.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Von Teese’s boudoir also contains drawers apparently stacked full of underwear. On this subject, the star reasons, “I’m a lingerie designer, so I have to wear a lot of my lingerie.” There’s also a mirrored vanity from the 1930s, and a patio area located directly off the bedroom.
Describing this outdoor area, Von Teese says, “This is like a great place that I like to escape [to] when I’m entertaining and I can see everything that’s going on. Me and my cat like to hang out here too.” And on that note, Von Teese wraps up her house tour, escorting the cameras out of the door while telling them, “I’ve got to feed this cat, so I’m going to show you out. Thanks for coming.”