Designer Betsey Johnson with CBS correspondent Serena Altschul. Courtesy CBS News
Betsey Johnson in her new home, California; Courtesy CBS News
“And to me, it’s just a lot of good luck, and the talent and the work. But the luck for me has been the most important.” ~ Betsey Johnson
Betsey Johnson feels very lucky. CBS Correspondent Serena Altschulinterviewed the 74 year old fashion designer about her life and her loves. Although she has hinted that she may be done with her runway shows, she is certainly not ‘done’ with other things! In fact, there is too much left for Betsey Johnson to create. For more than 50 years, since the 1960s, Betsey Johnson has given girls and women the chance to feel unique and fun. Growing up, Johnson never studied fashion or design but she always felt that she knew how to “do it,” as she says. Just doing it seems to come naturally to Betsey Johnson; she raised her daughter Lulu on her own, she survived breast cancer and bankruptcy. And though she says that it takes hard work, talent, and luck to be a success, I would say that Betsey Johnson’s story is as much about inspiration and resilience as anything else. Just ask the hoards of young girls and women who would follow her anywhere – put me in that category!
CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg with 2015’s recipient of the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, Betsey Johnson (Credit: Getty)
“Today I consider myself the luckiest girl on the face of the Earth,” Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Betsey Johnson
I smiled when I heard that designer Betsey Johnson was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) event Monday night. I love Betsey Johnson. I think the fashion world loves her too. She has been a fashion designer for 50 years debuting her signature label in 1978; creating feminine and whimsical yet edgy and modern clothes. I remember borrowing my mother’s Betsey Johnson red plaid corduroy blazer as a teenager (where is that now??) and I remember a few years later buying my own Betsey Johnson dress. It was a feminine, floral print with bold colors and puffed sleeves; I felt like I had made it – owning a Betsey Johnson dress was a true right of passage!
Betsey Johnson says she is a workaholic and she loves the work. But it’s much more than just her body of work. It’s her resilience, it’s the fact that she remains relevant after all this time. Betsey Johnson is a survivor – she has been tested and she keeps coming back … with a cartwheel and a split!
When I planned my outfit for this wedding, I knew in my heart there was only one dress to wear: my Betsey Johnson black velvet wrap dress. Sleek and slimming, sophisticated yet flirty, this dress is the perfect choice. I have had a long-standing love affair with designer Betsey Johnson; ever since the 1970s, when I was a teen shopping with my mom on our Saturday morning adventures. My mom introduced me to Betsey Johnson, who, at the time, was designing under the label Betsey Johnson Alley Cat. It was not long after that I began to borrow her Betsey Johnson treasures. Eventually, the much-coveted red-plaid corduroy jacket with puffed sleeves became mine. Thank you for that, Mom. I wish I had it now.
It’s so nice to know that Betsey Johnson is still sharing her designs for new generations to enjoy. Perhaps there is a mother-daughter team out there right now, shopping on a Saturday morning, and the mother is introducing her daughter to the magic that is Betsey Johnson.
You may want to spend part of your Mother’s Day with designer Betsey Johnson and her daughter, Lulu. Tonight the Style Network will launch the season premier of: xox Betsey. A little over a year ago Betsey Johnson filed for bankruptcy but as she herself says, “The stores are gone, but I’m not!” Which is a very good thing, and I can’t wait to see more of Betsey Johnson! She is a fashion favorite, ever since my mother introduced me to her in the mid 1970s when she took over the fashion label Alley Cat. I will never forget (and I wish I could find) the red plaid corduroy Alley Cat blazer designed by Betsey Johnson. It was divine. I borrowed it from my mother and she never saw it again.
I imagine xox Betsey will be a loving tribute to mothers and daughters everywhere and a lot like Betsey Johnson-the-designer herself: bold, bright, edgy, cooky, a lot of fun and original! I’ll be watching!
Designer Betsey Johnson, Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images for IMG
Betsey Johnson is a fashion icon. A designer who never ages. Perhaps it’s because her designs are youth-inspired with a rocker-girl whimsy. Or perhaps it’s because she ends every one of her shows with a cartwheel (something I haven’t been able to do since 7th grade!). But this Peter Pan of fashion is starting over at age 70 and it appears, doing it with vim and vigor. I was surprised to discover that Betsey Johnson’s company had filed for bankruptcy last April, 2012, when I read Tim Murphy’s story on Betsey, entitled Betsey Johnson, Back In the Pink (The Collection – The New York Times).
What is next for Betsey? A new line of more moderately-priced clothing to be introduced to department stores, including Macy’s and Nordstrom (designer Steve Madden is her new parent company), production of a reality TV show with her daughter, Lulu, premiering this spring on the Style Network, and her third fragrance, Betseyfield, to be released this summer.
I have loved Betsey Johnson’s clothes since my mother introduced me to her line in the 1970s. I wish her much success in her second act. Keep on cartwheeling, Betsey!!
My mother is always there for me. Loving me, guiding and supporting me, and supporting my passion for fashion. She has a style all her own and she wears clothes beautifully. That style is simple and chic, and she has taught me that less is more. She loves soft clothes and good color, whether it is a trouser or a dress or her favorite thing to wear, a great sweater. I know, because as soon as I was old enough I started borrowing her clothes, and some never made their way back to her closet.
We are a mother-daughter pair who shop easily together. I remember having the most fun with her when I was in my young and mid-teens, in the mid-late 1970’s. There was a boutique attitude and a one-of-a-kind feeling toward dressing.