Dita von Teese by Dita von Teese ~ perfume review

Dita von Teese by Dita von Teese, fragrance advert

I happen to be a fan of the model and burlesque performer Dita von Teese; I like her retro style in fashion and grooming, as well as her highly stylized and seductive performances (at least, the bits I've seen online). She really does seem well-versed in the feminine style of the 1920s-50s, and she has occasionally mentioned her favorite perfumes in interviews: Love's Baby Soft in her teen years, followed by Cacharel Lou Lou and Houbigant Quelques Fleurs. 

Her first fragrance in her own line, released simply as Dita von Teese in 2011, was developed with perfumer Nathalie Lorson and includes notes of bergamot, peony and Bourbon pepper; Bulgarian rose, Tahitian tiare flower and jasmine; and incense, patchouli, musk, guaiac wood and sandalwood. In the press release for this fragrance, von Teese said,

I wanted to do something very sensual, sleek and simple that speaks of wanting to be a grown-up, sophisticated woman, who is in charge of her life. I just love the idea of something that is both very good, sophisticated and elegant, but also a little bit mysterious, dark and dangerous. Those two things together become something very special and really magical. I wanted a perfume that feels like that.

Yes, we've heard all that before. Fortunately, Dita von Teese (the perfume) lives up to its billing by Dita von Teese (the person), who also described it more informally via Twitter as "No fruit, no vanilla, no candy!!" and “Velvet sensuality w/a dash of vulgarity!”

Whereas so many mainstream fragrances (not to mention most celebrity fragrances) open with a burst of fruit-juice notes, Dita von Teese starts off dry and almost androgynous. Its opening includes plenty of pepper dusted over something that reminds me of vetiver, although it's not listed in the official description. There's a nose-tickling effect from the pepper (and some aldehydes?), plus a sharper-edged woody note (an early appearance by the guaiac?), and then the fragrance gradually softens and turns more classically feminine. I really don't notice the tropical influence of any tiare, but there's definitely some rose, some non-animalic jasmine, and a dusting of powdery iris.

Dita von Teese is an Eau de Parfum, and it has pleasing depth and sillage. On the other hand, I really don't find it overly vampish or powerful. I've worn it — judiciously applied — to the office, where I felt very comfortable swathed in its woodsy-floral warmth.  The flowers and woods don't feel "natural," strictly speaking, but they're not cheap-smelling, either. The incense note is mild, as incenses go, and it adds a base to the bouquet of the heart notes. The total effect is lush, yet restrained. If Dita von Teese's fragrance were a Dita von Teese striptease, it would begin as a tailored suit with a pencil skirt, and slowly work its way down to satin lingerie and a little fur scarf.

If you've read many of my reviews, you know that I do like feminine, old-fashioned florals, so you won't be surprised that Dita von Teese gets a flirtatious wink of approval from me. It's worth a try if you like neo-retro floral perfumes like Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose (although Dita is definitely less plush and sweet) or Jul et Mad Stilettos on Lex, or if you favor glamourous vintage fragrances for special occasions but need something a little more discreet (and more affordable) for everyday life. 

Dita von Teese by Dita von Teese, 20 ml bottle

I should also say a quick word about the packaging: I've purchased a 20 ml bottle, which is a purse-size atomizer (also designed to be laid down on a dressing table, etc.) and I'm very pleased with the quality of the ribbed black glass and the little black tassel (with a single lipstick-red bead!). The box is pretty flimsy, but I'd rather see a company cut corners on outer packaging than the bottle or, obviously, the fragrance itself. Overall, though: very nicely done, and worthy of its namesake.

Dita von Teese by Dita von Teese is available as 20 ($30), 40 ($50), and 75 ($75) ml Eau de Parfum. Matching body products are also offered. For purchasing information, see the listing for Dita von Teese under Perfume Houses.

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  1. annemarie says:

    Lovely review, and you have revived my interest in Dita. I’m in Australia and a while ago, over a year, I saw this fragrance in Target. I didn’t know much about Dita then and without quite understanding her and what she is about, could not decide whether the packaging was vampish or just slutty. I tried the perfume, and went about my business. A few weeks later when I went back, thinking: ‘That stuff was really rather good’, the brand had disappeared. And I’ve never seen it since anywhere. What happened? No idea, but perfume distribution can be a funny thing.

    It’s a pity. A 20 ml bottle would be just enough to satisfy a small need for some old fashioned glamour at a reasonable price.

    • Jessica says:

      “Old fashioned glamour at a reasonable price” is very on-point! I don’t think it ever showed up at Target in the US, alas.

      I’m not crazy about *all* of the “new burlesque,” but I really find DvT’s style and presentation appealing, for some reason!

    • perthgirl says:

      Funny you should say that Annemarie, when I first read about this a year or so ago I googled it to see where it might be sold. Target came up online so I went there to check and nope- nothing. Haven’t seen it ANYWHERE- not even the usual Priceline/ Chemist Warehouse places.

      • annemarie says:

        Interesting to hear that we have had similar experiences. I’ve never seen it at Priceline or CW either, and I monitor them fairly closely for bargains. I could blind buy it online, but normally this is the sort of thing that I’ll buy if I see it locally at a good price, and can test it first. But otherwise … hmmmm ….

    • Oakland Fresca says:

      I know nothing about this outfit, but a website called HSN.com seems to carry the small flask, available to the US market. As I was poking around the site a 15% coupon popped up. Don’t know if it can be applied to the fragrance… No testing of course…

      • Jessica says:

        I ordered my small bottle from HSN (Home Shopping Network), although I can’t figure out why on earth they’re carrying Dita’s line — it’s not their usual style, to say the least!

  2. kate says:

    I just love the look of that bottle and so so good to do it in smaller sizes….what is it with some perfume house doing these HUGE bottles?
    I will not buy them! The juice sounds good – certainly I will give it a try and may even go out of my way to find it. Sounds classy enough but not overpriced like some out there. Fab!

    • Jessica says:

      The prices really are reasonable for something that smells feminine and grown-up and not at all flashy! Hope you can find it without too much trouble, in order to give it a try…

  3. Bejoux says:

    This had a great big launch at Liberty’s in London and I liked it but didn’t love it when I sampled it. Sadly by the time I got around to deciding I needed it badly it had vanished from the shelves and now I can’t find it anywhere – I should have pounced on it. I would like to try her new one but that has not appeared yet in the UK. And this time if I like it I will grab it straight away!!

    • Jessica says:

      What a shame! That must have been a fantastic launch. I haven’t been to Liberty (or London in general) in years and years, but I do love that store…

  4. AnnieA says:

    Bejoux, my cousin bought bottle for me via the UK Amazon site. Looking forward to sniffing it when she and I next meet.

  5. Merlin says:

    Sounds fabulous! I wonder where the main areas of distribution for these perfumes are?

    • Jessica says:

      Merlin, it does seem much easier to find in Germany, where its parent company Luxess is based… and in Los Angeles (where she lives!)… but I wish it were more widely offered!

      • Merlin says:

        Interesting. Pity its not a wider distribution!

        • Jessica says:

          I completely agree! I sniffed it at the Elements Showcase back in August, and then I sprayed some on my arm, and then I took home a spritzed blotter. When I was still sniffing the blotter months later, I decided to make the purchase!

  6. AnnieA says:

    Wonder whether her new perfume, Erotique, will have better distribution, since there seems to be more of a marketing effort for it. I too rather like Dita, although I am not sure why…

    • Jessica says:

      I wonder!! I was able to sniff FleurTeese, Rouge, and Erotique at the Elements Showcase last summer. I liked Rouge and Erotique. I hope I’ll be able to smell them again somehow!

  7. thinkingmagpie says:

    Sounds nice. I’d love to try this & Erotique. I wonder if I can get it in Spain… I might need to try Amazon UK and send it to my friend’s.

    • Jessica says:

      The Dita von Teese website. (dita.net) may have a list of European vendors. This is one reason that I waited so long to review this fragrance — I hate to praise something that is so hard to find! :(

  8. MelissaJane says:

    I have and love all the Dita perfumes. Ron Robinson carries the line and I’ve purchased all of mine online.

    • Jessica says:

      Ron Robinson seems to be one of the few US sales points (along with HSN and Dita’s own website) — thanks!

      I hope I’ll have a chance to review some of the other fragrances in the line.

  9. RoseRed says:

    What a beautiful review and I agree. I picked up a bottle of the EDP at Dita’s most recent show, Strip Strip Hooray! It smells great but not overly vampy, not so vampy I’d feel self conscious wearing it on a first date, to me it seems more daywear, like a lunch date with someone you’re attracted to enough that they make you nervous but you’re still not sure yet if you’re ready to commit to something long term. The .7 bottle is beautiful but it could have used a pretty bottle top, or any bottle top, I guess that’s another way they cut corners to keep it to an affordable 40 US dollars. It wears well on my skin which is surprising because I have highly acidic skin that makes most perfumes go “off” on me and doesn’t seem to have a lot of staying power or any sillage but that can be a good thing for people who are sensitive to smells, I have other more vampish scents with lots of sillage and staying power that some family members loathe for precisely that reason, so again, good first date with someone you don’t want to overpower with scent but want to wear something sexy, yet stay a little aloof. If you’re not a Dita fan (I am) there is nothing about this perfume to make you jump up and buy a bottle, yes the bottle is pretty, even the .7, yes the juice is lovely but there are other pretty bottles with pretty juice. On the whole, I would say that Dita has created a scent that’s a cut above most celebrity scents of fruity florals (thank gawd) and it will not disappoint her fans but if you’re not a Dita fan, there’s really no compelling reason to run out immediately and buy a bottle. I will keep mine for sentimental reasons and wear it on first dates and whenever I want a hit of Dita’s classic burlesque glamour.

    • RoseRed says:

      BTW, if you’re wondering what it smells like, it smells like Evening in Paris but with incense instead of talc. If you like Evening you might like Dita, if you don’t like Evening, you might like Dita, give it a try, either way it’s a beautiful collectable bottle worthy of display.

      • RoseRed says:

        addendum; I think the bottle I have may have been damaged as I smelled a brand new bottle tonight and it has lovely silage even when applied only to the wrists, dunno about it’s staying power but I’m guessing more than the one I have which has obviously been heat damaged.

  10. cassieflower says:

    I was very impressed by this, it isn’t at all an overtly sexbomb
    in-your-face fragrance. I would call it quietly glamorous. I’m not really getting so much out of the floral aspect of it, more the underlying woods, with a sprinkling of pepper and in the latter stages a little rose. If I were to compare it to something quite mainstream it would be Armani Code Femme, it has the same ‘feeling’. With a middling sillage it’s very wearable at any time of day, perhaps with a little extra application to ramp things up for night time.

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