With her big blue eyes, black pixie crop and slinky red dress, Betty Boop’s character has long been synonymous with sultry style.

The brains behind the Betty Boop label, Fleischer Studios and King Features, recently teamed up with the Whitehouse Institute to run a student design competition centred around Betty’s iconic look.

Students could submit a design under one of three categories; “Glam Betty”, “Vintage Betty” or “Biker Grunge Betty”, with the winning designer being awarded a trip to New York City to intern with Anna Sui.

Couturing spoke with the lucky winner, Tennille Sanders, to discuss her winning design and the fashionable ladies who’d influenced her design career; from Barbie to Betty Boop.


Camille: Tell us a little about yourself as a designer; what is your design aesthetic?

Tennille: My design journey is only beginning and my aesthetic is still evolving. This year, my personal style has started to shift towards a more contemporary aesthetic that is juxtaposed with vintage elements.


Camille: What was your background in fashion, did you always want to be a designer?

Tennille: I was the crafty kid in the family; I remember getting in trouble for raiding my Mum’s fabric cupboard to make Barbie an evening gown. I was seven, so I guess it’s always been there with me.

I remember the point that I knew for sure that I wanted to be a designer; I was 15 and I was drawing designs and it hit me: this is what I want to do!


Camille: What was your reaction when you realised you’d won the Betty Boop Student Design Competition and would be interning with Anna Sui in New York City?

Tennille: Interning with Anna Sui is a dream come true; it is such an amazing opportunity for any young designer. I am really excited to get in there and learn everything I can.

When they first said my name I had to repeat it in my head. I felt really positively about my design, but I still couldn’t believe that I had won!


Camille: The categories for the competition were divided into “Glam Betty”, “Vintage Betty” and “Biker Grunge Betty” – which did your design fit into?

Tennille: I designed for “Glam Betty”, but I think my design also resonated with the “Vintage” and “Biker Betty” categories. The style and fabrication of my design were both very glam, but the full silhouette of the skirt and the sweetheart neckline were both inspired by Betty’s vintage sensuality. The sheer black silk burnout I used for the skirt added a shot of sex appeal and contemporary edge.


Camille: Tell me more about your winning design; what was your concept?

Tennille: My design philosophy was about honouring what I love about Betty Boop; her vintage sensuality, her bombshell sex appeal and her playfulness. I wanted to create a really unique, conceptual Glam Betty look that also reflected Betty’s iconic style.


Camille: Betty Boop is often referred to as a style icon; what are your thoughts on her classic look?

Tennille: I definitely think Betty Boop is a style icon. It may not be because she wears the latest trends or is the current “It” girl, but it has more to do with her confidence and self-assuredness. She is living evidence that sexy is any size, any age, any woman. The iconic mini dress has been with her since the beginning and is still worn in similar styles across the world today. You only have to see a girl in a tight mini to be reminded of Betty Boop and where it all started.


For Tennille, it all starts on December 1, when she jets out of Melbourne to begin her internship with Anna Sui, in the city that never sleeps. 

Tennille Sanders with her winning design


About The Author

Camille Gower

Camille Gower is a freelance writer and fashion blogger with a penchant for prêt-a-porter and pretty frocks. Vintage and sustainable fashion are her passion, but she also has a soft spot for music, tea parties, Turner Classic Movies and alliteration. Her blog Fashion Camille Leon (http://camilleleon.blogspot.com.au/) is a fusion of musings on Melbourne street style, vintage markets, and unique fashion finds for stylish ladies and gentlemen.

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