Betsey Johnson is one of those rare famous people who won’t disappoint you. She’s kind and generous with her time and her sunny disposition and champagne-sipping zaniness is endlessly charming. Plus, she drops jarring fashion truth bombs like: “Pssshhh ombré’s been around since the sunset.” (!!!!!) She’s seen and done everything and it’s awesome that at 70, she continues to design. When you walk into her studio, there’s clothing EVERYWHERE. Tulle petticoats hang from the ceiling, intarsia dresses from the ’60s share space with bias-cut slip dresses from the ’90s and there are these mini altars devoted to new trends she’s chewing on with ripped-out inspiration magazine pages and various little geegaws like painted china, jewel-encrusted shoes and sequin-riddled bits of fabric. There is also candy.
Everyone has a Betsey Johnson dress. That’s a given. When we first considered visiting Betsey as an homage to her memorable appearances on the original House of Style series, it immediately spurred conversation between our producers about how cruuuuuucial a Betsey Johnson dress was to us at various points in our lives. There was the floral, tea-length slip we wore to graduation and the short, swishy, satin bustier situation we wore to prom. I recently bought a long, black, vintage crochet slip to wear to a daytime charity event because it was so deceptively flattering that it seemed irresponsible not to. Plus, truth be told, I’m going through this thing where I’m buying every Betsey Johnson dress I find from the ’90s to give it a good home.
Betsey’s been designing since the ’60s. She first made waves in London’s Youthquake movement because a visit to the U.K. during her twenties changed her life. The style celebrated fun, carefree, whimsical cuts exemplified by flippy micro skirts and geometric onesies and it absolutely defined not what Betsey Johnson’s silhouettes would be in the decades following but the energy that her designs would embody. She’s since dressed everyone from Edie Sedgwick to Rihanna and the craziest thing is, a lot of these ladies just waltz into her store and buy stuff off the rack. You just know what you’re getting with a Betsey Johnson. There’s no hidden agenda. It all exists to make you happy. And as bonkers as a Betsey Johnson creation can be on one end of the spectrum, there is elegance in each design with careful but confidant consideration applied to zippers, pocket placement, length or the exact degree of flare to make your curves look best. Betsey Johnson is a treasure. And we’re super lucky to have her in life and for this video.