92Y Fashion Icons: Betsey Johnson

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As Betsey Johnson cartwheeled in for her interview with Fern Mallis at the 92nd street Y, the whole crowd knew to expect an evening full of excitement. Betsey marched on stage in bright, pepto-bismol pink sneakers, black pants, a hot pink tutu and plenty of accessories. In her left hand she carried a bouquet of hot pink flowers for Fern Mallis, praising her as the ultimate fashion savior. The applauding stopped and the interview began, as Betsey slowly began to remove the layers upon layers of jewelry she wore around her neck and arms. She took off her cross-body satchel and laid it on the floor beside her. Then removed some rings, her jacket, and finally the tutu. Betsey stood before us in nothing but a long sleeve black t-shirt, crystalized black jeans, and her pepto-bismol pink sneakers; that’s Betsey for you.

Betsey Johnson is the type of person you just have to appreciate for who she is. Her fashion brand and personality go hand-in-hand. At 70 years old, Betsey is certainly not “new” to the business, as she has been through all the highs and lows that the fashion world has to offer. For most of the interview, Betsey was just rambling about her personal stories and small moments in her life. The interview really felt as if we were listening in on a conversation between two close friends in a living room; very easy and unfiltered.

When asked what advice she would give to someone just starting out in the business, Betsey stood up out of her chair, lifted a leg and said, “Kick ass. Keep on kickin’ ass.” Betsey was constantly stretching, and getting up to act out all of the stories she told. My favorite part of the interview was at the very end when she tore up the flowers she had previously given Fern. She took the petals and threw them into the audience while she thanked us for supporting her all along the way.

Her charisma makes her so entertaining, which is why it may come as no surprise that Betsey and her daughter are starring in their own reality TV show on Style network beginning in April. Betsey revealed that she lives in the same building as her daughter and grandchildren, and measures her success by how lucky she is to have family.

If you would like to attend the next Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis interview, click here.


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