Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bernie Dexter!

Here at The Pink Collar Life we are excited to share everything with our readers, vintage & modern, that inspires us! This week our spotlight is on the one and only Bernie Dexter. When I think of when I first started modeling eight years ago, Bernie Dexter and her contagious smile was what motivated me to step in front of the camera. I have followed her from being a pinup model, to now an owner and designer of her own company, making her the quintessential Pink Collar Gal! She is a complete doll, and took the time to let us interview her right before the busy weekend ahead of Viva Las Vegas!

Enjoy!  Make sure to visit and stay tuned for a look at Bernie Dexter designs on The Pink Collar Life...

< 3 Tara

Q: You have been a major influence on the neo rockabilly and pinup scene, what choices have you made that you feel helped in your success as a model and business owner?

A: Thank you so much for recognizing that! Honestly, I have always just been myself. Levi’s advice early on was, "Do not look at other peoples work." So I stuck to that rule. At this point in my career, it is not a rule anymore. I enjoy seeing other peoples work, and I do not spend heaps of time looking, but whenever I come across something... I take a peek. I am so busy these days, that I do not really have much time to be social, or even surf the internet that much.

Q: When did you start Bernie Dexter Clothing? Are there any plans for opening a Bernie Dexter Store?

A: I started in 2007. I did a few collections in collaboration with others, but found I really just enjoyed taking the reins and doing it all myself. And YES!!! I am currently looking to open a store close to where I live. I do have a little spot in Foxtrot Vintage on Main St. in old town Gresham, OR. Dresses have been flying out the door! ...I have some neat ideas in place to make it a fun shopping experience!

Bernie in Bernie Dexter Lurex
Bernie in Bernie Dexter gingham bullet dress 

Q: What female actress / musician / artist / model from the past has been the most influential to you?

A: I have a few…. I absolutely adore Ginger Rogers. I think she is SO beautiful and funny and has lots of personality. I have also been influenced by the obvious, Bettie Page. For the past 10 years or so it was recommended by my legal team to not mention her name on my website or any of my web pages. Because of the uncanny resemblance, it made it very difficult to celebrate her the way I would have liked to. She was a fan of mine, and even in the early 2000’s she sent me a private email telling me how much she enjoyed my photos. It really made me feel special. I was given an extra large spot light gallery on her website because she felt no one had resembled her so much before. I think we both became fascinated. Sadly we never met because of the legal situation that got in the way. Another massive influence is Olivia De Berardinis. She has been a wonderful friend and support to me. She is really the reason I keep going. Her art is incomparable! I always say this, but being asked to model for her and have her paint me was like winning an Oscar. It truly is the highest achievement you can reach as a pinup model. One more of my biggest influences is my husband, Levi Dexter. He is the one who told me my smile was the magic. No one ever made me feel like I was something special before him.. He always gave me the confidence I lacked, just because he believed in me. I also LOVE Linda Evangelista. She is my favorite high fashion model of all time.

Levi & Bernie Dexter 

Q: What are some of your favorite household vintage finds that you own?

A: I have a Rococo settee I found that I LOVE. We have used it in a few shoots, and I have some more amazing pieces I still need to use in photoshoots.

Q: You have traveled the world, what was your favorite destination to date?

A: Gosh that is so hard, I love so many of the places I have been for so many different reasons. England is always a favorite because the British people are so warm. I love how social they are, and they always find a reason to throw a party and celebrate like no others.

Japan was INCREDIBLE! The Japanese people are the kindest, loyalist, and most generous people. I cried when I left, and I cried all the way home. I fell in love with all our new friends we met on the Levi Dexter & Gretsch Brothers Tour. It was truly the time of my life. Apart from the amazing shows they did (and I went to them all!), we did so many fun things from dress in authentic traditional costumes, to going to some very old parts of Japan, and eating traditional Japanese food. We went to the Elvis Anniversary Party at The Trump Room in Tokyo, and it was like we stepped back in time. Everyone was dressed impeccably. The room was beautiful, there was Moet champagne, and a fabulous fashion show featuring The King (mens clothing) and Bernie Dexter dresses! It was just incredible!!!

Bernie & Levi with rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson 

Q: What is your current favorite accessory to add to an outfit?

A: Hoop Earrings! When I am not wearing my Classic Hardware jewels, I wear my signature hoop earrings. I have worn them since I was 14 years old.

Q: We have all made some fashion mistakes, can you tell us about a memorable outfit or phase you went through that still makes you cringe?

A: Gosh... lucky for me I have pretty much always worn vintage because I could not afford new clothes. In my late teens till my early twenties, I wore a lot of 1970’s or 1960’s, but cool designer stuff like Pucci and other but flattering on.  My first Rockabilly show was Big Sandy in 1993 I think. I was like OMG I need to come to these shows more, and I need to learn to dance!  There were not a lot of rockabilly bands around Hollywood at that time, just a handful, and it was more of the swing scene...1940’s style. So my style became heavily influenced by that, although I LOVED 1950’s fashion! I collected it all... whatever I found at the secondhand shops like Salvation Army and Goodwill.

Baby Bernie 

Q: Are there any other upcoming project or tour plans for you and husband Levi?

A: Yes! Levi is headlining Viva Las Vegas!!! I will be there introducing the band too. We have not gone there in YEARS! We went to the very first one, and 4 or 5 more years after, but not since. We always seem to be on our European tour at the time it is going on. After that we will head to the Blue Monday Good Rockin' Tonight Festival  in France where Levi is a special guest. I am also a special meet and greet guest. Then we go back to England for the amazing Atomic Festival.  Levi is playing, and I am introducing a new special collection there made just for them. The fabric is designed by Jacqueline Davies and it is very much influenced by the Atomic Festival.  I will have this available on my website as well. We are all SO excited about it! After that we have the  Rockabilly Rave.  It is more of a meet, but we are really excited to see Jack Baymoore play.  Levi and I are HUGE fans of his!!!

Q: How many times have you been told you look like Bettie Page?

A: A zillion!!! haahaaa! Even before I really knew who she was I would say, "No, I am a rockabilly girl." hahaha, I was a bit naive when I cut my first fringe as an adult… I cut it because Linda Evangelista had just done a fashion show with fringe. I had to try it! heheee. I was not even in the rockabilly scene yet when I cut it, although I did have a wig almost my whole life.

Bernie wearing Bernie Dexter 

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