Dita Von Teese on the Fetish Heels That Inspired Her Career
In InStyle's June issue, we asked burlesque queen Dita Von Teese to share the story behind one of her most prized possessions: her vintage Bettie Page pumps.
I started my career in the early '90s wanting to be the next Bettie Page. Back then I was a young blonde from a farming town in Michigan, and when I saw the pinup pictures of Page with her jet-black hair, pale skin, and classic '50s style, I was enamored. Even when she was filming something really risqué, she always had an air of playfulness and fun about her.
So I dyed my hair black and spent almost two years emulating her before I found my own look. Then, a few years ago I heard that all the shoes she wore when she posed for [photographer] Irving Klaw were going up for auction. I got out my best perfumed stationery and wrote a heartfelt letter to the owner telling him how much it would mean to me if I could buy a pair outright. I even flew to Las Vegas to pick them out.
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They're beautiful custom-made fetish heels that she wore all the time, so for burlesque fans like me they're basically Dorothy's ruby slippers. It was a pinch-me moment when I tried them on, especially since they're a size 6½ and fit me perfectly. Now they live in an antique birdcage in my home in Los Angeles. I always felt like I was following in Page's footsteps, so to have the actual shoes that created those footsteps is really something.
Von Teese is the author of the New York Times best-selling book Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour ($29; amazon.com). For more stories like this, pick up InStyle's June issue available on newsstands and for digital download now.