August 20 2014

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The Once And Future Betsey Johnson


Sorry to disappoint, but Betsey Johnson did not cartwheel her way to the podium last night to accept her Lifetime Achievement award at the National Arts Club. Still, the forever-young designer did dance a little jig, throw rose petals about, and unroll a handmade timeline—collaged on bright pink felt, naturally—with the help of her longtime business partner Chantal Bacon. The rest of her cheering section included her brother and sister and daughter Lulu. It was a night for waxing nostalgic, and after over forty years in the game, Johnson has every right to. “I like to think my designs are timeless,” mused Johnson during the dinner. “But New York is always changing. The Hamptons with Warhol was so different. And the Soho that existed in the sixties when I opened my first shop on Thompson Street was such a new thing.” She continued, “Still, I know that the Betsey Johnson girl is out there.” For proof of that, you need look no further than the success of her reissued eighties looks at Opening Ceremony. In fact, they’ve been so successful, Johnson is continuing the collab for spring, plumbing her sixties archives this time around. Because while New York may permanently change, fashion inevitably circles back.

Photo: Courtesy of Betsey Johnson

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