Betsey Johnson has been a regular on the
fashion scene since 1965, when she began designing clothes for the groovy
Paraphernalia boutique, where Edie Sedgwick was her house model and rockers
like the Velvet Underground were regular clients (Johnson was married to musician
John Cale at the time).
Johnson opened her own boutique, Betsey Bunki
Nini, in 1969, and launched her namesake label in 1978 with business partner,
Chantal Bacon.Since then, Betsey Johnson has become synonymous with
colorful, feminine, girls-just-wanna-have-fun clothing, and the line is as
popular in 2008 as it was during the ‘70s and ‘80s, when every punk rock
princess worth her bleach blonde faux hawk had at least one striped velvet
Betsey Johnson dress in her closet.
Today, the indefatigable 66-year-old breast
cancer survivor continues to expand her brand (she currently has 75 freestanding
boutiques worldwide and is carried by more than 500 department and specialty
stores across the globe), and she still does cartwheels at the end of every
The Fashion Informer’s Lauren David Peden
caught up with the effervescent grandmother of two on the eve of her New York
Fashion Week Spring 2009 show to dish on her childhood dreams, favorite movies
and vegetable-induced crying jags.
What is your favorite time of day
7:30 in the morning when I run downstairs to
visit my two granddaughters.
What's in current rotation on your
I don’t use an iPod.I threw three of them out the window and don’t have one
now.It’s a shame. Maybe in my next life I’ll use one.
You consistently play some the best
fashion show music I've ever heard; how do you choose which songs to include in
We work with a great DJ, Rene Goulet, and it’s
a fun collaboration that revolves around the theme of each show.He leads the way and I throw some
favorites and oldies in there.
When you were 9 years old, what did
you want to be when you grew up?
What's your favorite movie of all
“The Women” for the fashion, “Blade Runner” for
the early futurist, “Easy Rider” because the girls wore my clothes in it.Anything with Cary Grant and Brigitte
What is your idea of a perfect meal?
You celebrated your 40th anniversary
in the business last month (August); what one piece of advice would you impart
to your younger self if you had the chance?
Always stick to your guns no matter what.
Tell me about your pet(s).
Lucy’s like my little girlfriend.She’s the friendliest, sweetest Maltese
you’ll ever meet.
What's the best thing about being a
Seeing the grandkids every day.
What would you like to be doing if you
weren't a designer?
A Rockette, an interior decorator or a florist.
Beverage of choice?
Brunch: pro or con?
I never eat brunch.
If you found $15,000 cash in a brown
paper bag, how would you spend it?
I’d give it to my favorite breast cancer
charity, the NBCFF.
What never fails to make you cry?
When I cut onions.
When are you happiest?
When I’m with my lover, and when I’m with my
No, not the designer, silly goose, the company! Read our coverage of the stylish CK shindig, which took place last week on New York's High Line in a custom built John Pawson gallery space, over at Vogue.com.
The Fashion Informer is back from vaca and will hit the ground running with Fashion Week coverage starting tomorrow. But today, let's take a moment to celebrate one of the most beloved designers in New York: Isabel Toledo.
A true iconoclast, Toledo has always marched to the beat of her own drummer, designing sculptural-yet-practical clothing since 1985 and eschewing the frenzied runway show scene since 1998 (the year of her last formal show).
Much like Azzedine Alaia, Madeleine Vionnet and Clair McCardell - all of to whom she's been favorably compared - the Cuban born couturier revels in the craft and artistry of fashion design. Hence the Couture Council's Artistry of Fashion Award bestowed by the Museum at FIT, which was presented to Toledo Wednesday at a glittering luncheon at New York's Rainbow Room, emceed by Simon Doonan, in front of an audience that included designers Narciso Rodriguez, Philip Crangi, Lela Rose and Justin Giunta, retailers Julie Gilhart, Michael Fink and Linda Fargo, and editors from every major fashion mag.
"She's a self-described perfectionist, purist and modern-day romantic," said presenter Andre Leon Talley from the podium. "I always tell Ruben and Isabel, with no irony: I want to be like you when I grow up."
You can read more of our coverage of the event at Vogue.co.uk.