Lipstick and Curls interviews Bernie Dexter

Monday August 19th 2013

Bernie Dexter is one of the most well know models on the vintage scene. She has adorned album covers, starred in music videos, is a regular at festivals and has modelled for some of our favorite reproduction clothing companies. She also has her own clothing label and Amanda at Lipstick & Curls has been lucky enough to work with her on many occasions. 

Tell us a little bit about your background, where you come from and how you got into modelling?

I grew up in San Diego. I started modelling when I was 12, but my career did not really take off until I was 32.

You are now the biggest name on the vintage scene, what first sparked you interest in the scene?

Awww thank you, I discovered rockabilly in 1991, I saw a band (I can not remember their name) but really did not get going in the scene until 1994 when I saw Big Sandy. There were not a lot of Rockabilly shows happening at that time, I would go see what ever I could and also went to swing shows. I really enjoyed dancing. 

Who are your main historical inspirations?

I LOVE Ginger Rogers, she is the perfect mixture of beauty and so cute and funny too.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Working with Olivia.  it was a dream come true. Olivia made me feel like I was relevant in the pin up world.

You now have your own successful clothing label, tell us a little about what inspires you in your designs?

I am always inspired by my trips to England and Europe. You can see this in the prints I choose.  I also get inspiration from vintage pieces I have owned. I love the fit of vintage clothing and I’m really fuss about fit. And it is also made in the USA and 99% of my designs are 100% cotton. 

I LOVE working with cotton. 

You met your husband Levi on the scene, a key player in the rockabilly revival in the 80’s, how did you meet?

Ahhh Levi, actually he was around in the 1970's, he came to America in 1979. He was on national television as soon as he arrived. Levi and The Rockats were on the Merve Griffin show . WATCH LEVI ON THE MERVE GRIFFIN SHOW

We were set up on a blind date in 1996 by mutual friends Tim Polecat & Melody. Heehehe  Levi and I are forever grateful to them for changing both our lives. 

What are you listening to at the moment?

Levi & the Gretsch Brothers new cd. It is WONDERFUL!  Levi recorded with the Gretsch brothers last summer in Japan and it was released about 6 weeks ago. 

Listen to a track from the CD - Restless

Listen to track from the CD - Oakie Boogie

What are your favorite films of all time?

Ohhh so many but one of my most favorites is The Women with Norma Shearer, wonderful hair and make up and fashions in this film.

I also love Stage Door, A Room with a View and Young Victoria.

As we are a hair & makeup company, can you share any of your beauty tips with our reader?

Sure, sometimes I use double eyelashes to get a really full lash look.

I love using hot rollers for soft curls and waves and hot sticks for the pin-curled look. I discovered Big Sexy Hair products they really hold the hair do very well.  

I must add Amanda from Lipstick & Curls, has done some of the best hair dos on me and they last!

You are known for generosity in supporting new talent. 

Aww thank you, that is so nice to read. I was not received with open arms when I came on the modelling scene so I try to be the person I would have like to have met when I started modelling.

Do you have any advice for up and coming models or pinups?

My best advice is just go for it. If you feel you want to do it don't let anyone or anything stop you. And when you see someone else new come along, be encouraging to them. Beauty comes in all shapes & sizes and there is room for us all. 

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to keep modelling as long as people are interested and keep designing new styles for my collection.

I have so many ideas I cannot wait to see come to life. 

Bernie Dexter

For more on Bernie Dexter and her clothing range please go to her website. BERNIE DEXTER