Gowning Around with Catherine D’Lish

Interview with Catherine D’Lish by Jo Weldon.

Catherine D’Lish is known for inventive, hyperglam, spectacular costuming. Her standard-setting work with Dita Von Teese is best known to many, but Catherine is constantly creating fresh, innovative designs, items that strike us as iconic immediately, working with fabric and trim in new and inspiring ways.

Most recently she has produced devastating sheer ruffled dressing gowns, reminiscent of classic dusters but with more of an intimate sense of the boudoir than the stage. They are, however, outrageously sexy onstage.

These gowns are glorious. When did you start making them?

CD: Thank you, I’m glad you like them! It all started a few years ago when I began cleaning out my costume and stored trunks; I had loads of old costumes I didn’t use anymore and plenty of fabric just sitting around. I unloaded the costumes on Ebay and made some gowns with the fabric I’d accumulated, and auctioned those, too.

A dressing gown by Catherine D'Lish. ©Catherine D'Lish
A dressing gown by Catherine D’Lish. ©Catherine D’Lish

Did you start with a pattern, or did you do this yourself?

I just start with some fabric and a pair of scissors, and get busy.

Did you envision them as stagewear, leisure wear, or something else?

I envision them as sold! It’s always interesting to me which of the gowns get the most enthusiastic reactions.  I also enjoy hearing what people do with them, and love hearing about the gowns in their happy new homes.

A dressing gown by Catherine D’Lish. ©Catherine D’Lish
A dressing gown by Catherine D’Lish. ©Catherine D’Lish

How often do you make them? Do you make them to order?

I’ll make the gowns when I’m on a break from touring. Occasionally I’ll take a custom order or two, but at this time my touring schedule is keeping me pretty busy, so it’s easier for me to make pieces for auction on my own time when I can as opposed to working with somebody else’s deadline. Also, with the random auction gowns, I can see what people respond to. Sometimes I’m surprised that a certain style or colour will receive so much interest.

A dressing gown by Catherine D’Lish. ©Catherine D’Lish
A dressing gown by Catherine D’Lish. ©Catherine D’Lish

You are such a brilliant designer, and your work is always so deliciously feminine. What inspires you?

Thank you for the compliment! I think that the only thing that “inspires” me is the process of having a big pile of stuff in front of me and figuring out what to make with it. My first step is to choose a bunch of materials  that appeal to me, and then I throw it all together. Every once in a while, the “inspiration” is trying to empty out a box of fabric that has been in my basement for over a year.

Dressing gowns by Catherine D’Lish. ©Catherine D’Lish
Dressing gowns by Catherine D’Lish. ©Catherine D’Lish

What can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I’m getting very (very) close to the launch of a luxury loungewear line… it’s been a long road! This line is a real departure from the work I’ve done that people are familiar with, but I still feel it’s very ‘me’. I’m excited to see what happens next.

See Catherine’s current auctions at http://www.ebay.com/usr/burlesk4u.

Keep abreast of new offerings at https://www.facebook.com/catherine.dlish.3.

Jo Weldon
Jo Weldon

Jo Weldon, commonly known as Jo Boobs or Jo Boobs Weldon, is a performer, photographer, author, activist, educator, and essayist based in New York City. Weldon’s body of work centers around stripping and striptease. She established and runs the New York School of Burlesque and wrote The Burlesque Handbook, the first manual ever published on how to create classical and neo-burlesque routines. Weldon is active in the burlesque community, contributing her knowledge and experience to projects and collaborations. Though she now works in the theatrical world of burlesque Weldon has never lost the influence of, and inspiration from lap dancing and strip clubs. She continues to work as an advocate for sex worker rights and freedom of sexual expression.

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