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Betsey’s designs remind us that fashion is fun; not boring or static. The Betsey Johnson label is always evolving and incorporates luxe fabrics, vibrant patterns and original colors. When creating pieces, Betsey wants the wearer to delve into her mood and find an exciting outfit to match the feeling. That is why Betsey never holds back and continues to offer eccentric patterns and animated color palettes. Fiery reds, flirty pinks and pleasing purples are at the heart of the collections, complemented by dark shades of black and grey.

Betsey Johnson is a New York fashion designer who has been sharing her creative side since the 1960s. She sets the standards in the fashion industry instead of following them and has been known for her whimsical, embellished designs. Born in 1942, Betsey loved to dance as a child and teen. Wearing exuberant costumes for her dance recitals, she started taking note of her love for dressing up. After high school, Betsey studied at the Pratt Institute and finished her studies at Syracuse University. When Betsey graduated from college, she spent the summer interning at Mademoiselle magazine.

In 1964, Betsey entered the Guest Editor Contest held by Mademoiselle and won, giving her the boost she needed to officially enter the New York fashion scene. Her creative inspiration landed well with fashion critics, as she earned herself the top designer position for Paraphernalia, a renowned clothing boutique that had some of the hottest young London designers working for it. Betsey collaborated with these fashion icons, delivering sultry silhouettes, flowing fabrics with a hippie-influence and an impeccable fit that flattered the female form.
Betsey continued on her path to success and found herself in the center of the Warhol scene during the 1960s. Edie Sedgwick played her house model, while John Cale wore her designs both on and offstage, launching her designs into the fashion scene. In 1969, Betsey opened a new boutique called Betsey Bunki Nini and was then offered a job working for Alvin Dunskin in San Francisco. This opportunity brought Betsey to the coast, where she indulged in a bicoastal lifestyle.
The 1970s brought new opportunities for Betsey, and she took creative control of the brand Alley Cat. This clothing label had a bohemian-influence and prided itself on original rock-and-roll outfits and ethnic styles. Betsey was making a huge impact on the fashion industry and was the recipient of the Coty Award in 1972, making her the youngest designer to receive this recognition. She continued to work for other labels, lending her artistic side to these brands until finally, she made a bold move and started her eponymous Betsey Johnson label.

With its launching in 1978, the Betsey Johnson brand allowed Betsey to show off her artistic talents without restriction. She formed a partnership with Chantal Bacon and began designing women’s collections that were limitless in terms of color, pattern and design. The same year, the first retail shop was opened in SoHo and a second was opened on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. This set the stage for the future success of Melrose Avenue; one of the best places to shop during the 1980s.
Betsey Johnson stores were expanded on a global level in 1998 when a boutique was opened in London. Further stores were opened in Toronto, Vancouver and Tokyo. Today, over 40 stores exist worldwide, as well as over 100 specialty stores located in the US, Europe and Asia. In 2005, Betsey opened a franchise store in Dubai, which stands as the Middle East’s largest shopping center.
Although Betsey’s main focus has been clothes, in 2003 she expanded her label by offering a tasteful collection of lingerie and shoes. Her continued success led her to further her label’s image, making it a lifestyle brand that offers swimwear, fragrances, jewelry, handbags, belts, eyewear, watches, outdoor accessories and home goods. Betsey’s vivid imagination and visual interpretations radiate through all her collections, keeping them at the forefront of the fashion industry.
Betsey attracts a large following of women and her collections have been well-received, making them highly desirable in a global market. She also connects with her customers on a more personal level, as Betsey is a survivor of breast cancer and is an active advocate for the fight against the disease. She makes public appearances and participates in fund raising events, auctioning off exclusive items that she designs on her own. Betsey worked with Geralyn Lucas, the author of Why I Wore Lipstick to my Mastectomy, and made tees in honor of the book. She’s also been the recipient of numerous honors by the National Breast Cancer Coalition and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Betsey is no stranger to the award scene; she won the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award, the Designer of the Year Award and the Footwear Associations Image Award in 2006. Betsey is dedicated to her fashion label and owns property in Mexico that she travels to for creative inspiration and guidance. Unlike other brands that have been made public or sold to other labels, Betsey has no desire of letting her company go any time soon. She remains a dynamic force in a competitive market and keeps ahead of the trends by offering quirky, fanciful fashions that build confidence and ingenuity in its wearers.
The Spring 2011 collection is especially funky and merges together a variety of styles. The outfits are bold and daring, bringing back the 80s in a contemporary manner. Leg warmers, thick belts and long chains make ideal accessories that keep consistent with the retro theme, while black and white printed maxi dresses, jumpsuits and leotards are the focal outfits. Cutesy corsets and shorts with ruffles demonstrate Betsey’s knack for fusing feminine chic and urban rock star.
The Fall 2011 collection features a “He Loves Me…He Loves Me Not” theme that tells a story of love. The Love Me Not part of the collection is dark, sleek and sexy and offers a more serious tone with a Goth-like edge. Betsey always ends her runway shows by doing her infamous cartwheels, keeping both her fashion and her personality to be adored.



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