Betsey Johnson Stages Model Aerobics Class at Fall 2013 Presentation

Betsey Johnson leading her models in their workout.
Photo: Getty

Last New York Fashion Week, we celebrated Betsey Johnson’s 70th birthday with a retrospective show, and it was MAJOR. This year, however, the cartwheel queen took a totally different approach, debuting her new dress line with what a pre-show press release promised would be a classic runway show with a secret theme. As the lights dimmed and the music came up on the backlit pink runway, with the mysterious “BJ Kicks A” emblazoned at the end of it, we still had no idea what was about to go down. However, an announcer came over the speakers and told us that we would be seeing the debut of Betsey Johnson’s new aerobics program AND her workout line. The aforementioned press release ALSO said that Johnson’s bags, shoes, and jewelry would be worn, so with this new development we knew we were in for a doozy of a show. As the models began walking down the runway, they mimed talking onto cell phones, doing flirty kicks and winks, and generally being a-dor-able and entirely unlike the dour super serious runway gaze we’re used to. The clothes themselves were a mix of workout gear, party dresses, and accessories, all styled together in a wild explosion of colors and layers. If you’re trying to imagine all of those things put together, just picture a bright blue tracksuit and hot pink sneaks topped with a faux fur white tie-necked shrug. Honestly, though, it wasn’t the new collection that really had everyone talking after the show, it was the very Betsey antics that ensued.

After the models walked, they formed a line, dancing and clapping and shimmying along to the music, out came Betsy, fully decked out in aerobics instructor garb. She lifted two champagne bottles from the ground and began to direct the models through a series of curls, sit ups, crunches, and all kinds of very Richard Simmons-esque shenanigans. While it made it somewhat hard to see the clothes, it was certainly spirited, and fully in keeping with the storyline that Betsey Johnson has been creating since she first got started. It was fun, and lighthearted, and a very welcome break from the ultra-serious quality of much of Fashion Week. And when it was over, and Betsey did her signature cartwheel, the crowd cheered as loud as I’ve ever heard them at a show. So are workout gear and silly hijinx what we can expect from Betsey from here on out? Well, her reality series, The Betsey And Lulu Show, on The Style Channel is slated to premiere next month, so it seems safe to say yes.

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