"Life is just a prom. No matter what she's wearing, she can't get out of her prom state of mind!" Thus did Betsey Johnson explain the giddy mindset of her quintessential "girl."

The invitation featured Johnson's own 1958 prom-night photo from Terryville High School in Connecticut, and the show was organized decade by decade, from the fifties (huge crinolines) through the sixties and seventies (Empire waists and daisies) to now. It consisted almost exclusively of petticoated party dresses dashed with decorations like sprinkles on a cupcake (sequins, hearts, laces, and lamé).

This was a deliberate act of indulgence. Johnson may have stores to fill, but most of the range didn't come down the runway. A controlling interest in the company was sold to Castanea Partners just three weeks ago, and Johnson, never needing much of an excuse to kick up her heels, was in a real party mood. "We can get slammed," she told Style.com, "but I have to do this show."

Held on the sixth anniversary of 9/11, it closed with looks representing the mood of the country today. There was a red-white-and-blue "Miss America" dress, and flowered headbands with paper flags stuck in them. For a surprise finale, four models came out and took off their shirts. Each had a letter on her back, together spelling out V-O-T-E.