September 14, 2009 New York
She is, patently, the quintessential downtown designer; Edie Sedgwick was even her fit model at one time. But lately Johnson's commuting to work on Seventh Avenue from a new abode on the Upper East Side.
Accordingly, she held her Spring presentation in the Palm Court at the Plaza. It turns out that she is redesigning Eloise's Room at the famed hotel. Aside from one model dressed in a sex-kitten version of Eloise's pinafore, the clothes weren't actually inspired by the messy imp—but their designer was as irreverent as the impertinent 6-year-old, titling the show Betsey's One Night Stand. (Pouring water down mail chutes isn't the only hanky-panky that goes on in fine hotels; have you heard about the more adult antics at the Standard?)
The lineup was a bit posher than usual. Georgia Jagger worked a white skirtsuit, while Ida Maria (whose song "Oh My God" was featured in promos for Gossip Girl) performed. "I think the psychological and visual elegance of the Plaza helped move us in a new direction," Johnson said. She didn't ditch the bodysuits and leopard prints, but she offered them in neater, more refined silhouettes. A little jersey number was made up in a Liberty-style floral, while pretty red-and-white party dresses—with crinis, of course—featured an almost traditional toile. If you looked closely, you could make out the skulls hidden among the foliage and fauna.