“I never keep anything beautiful in the closet.” –Betsey Johnson in Footwear News, 2004.
Betsey Johnson is one of the most original designers in the born in the fashion industry. Every line she creates is filled with color, patterns, flirtiness, and whimsical qualities. She has been on the fashion scene for more than forty years. She is always following her own rules and doing her own thing. Her quirky attitude and whit make her one of the most successful designers in the fashion industry. Maybe its the fact that she does a cartwheel at her spring and fall fashion shows, or that her clothes are always filled with imagination and inspiration, but something about the combination of both make her an incredible human being. How does someone get this unique sense of style in their life?
Betsey Johnson was born in Connecticut on August tenth, 1942. She has an older sister named Sally and Younger brother named Robert. When she was younger, she was very into dancing. Especially the costumes. They fascinated her with great inspiration. Another vital factor that dance later had on her runways was her dance instructor. She taught Johnson how to sew. She also taught her that every runway show needs a theme, and a beginning, middle, and end.
Johnson went to college at Syracuse university, where she was a cheerleader. Then, she went to the Pratt institute. After her graduation in 1960, she moved to NYC. There, she won the mademoiselle magazined guest editor contest. That landed her a job as head designer a year later in a hot spot boutique called paraphernalia.
In 1967, she married her then rockstar husband John Cale. They had their nuptials in City Hall. However, Johnson originally showed up to City Hall in dress pants but was turned away because at the time City Hall didn't find it appropriate for a woman to be married in or let alone wear pants. To seek her revenge, she returned there a few hours later in a micro mini skirt. Sadly, after four years of marriage, the couple divorced. Two other divorces to two different men followed.
In the 1970s, Johnson had the creative control of a line called Ally Cat. Ally Cat was a popular line during the 1970s, featuring junior sportswear under $100. This was a key factor in its success because the teenage market didn't(and still doesn't) want to spend their money on overly priced clothing. Her pregnancy with daughter Lulu was a main factor with her leaving Ally Cat. She had Lulu with a sculptor who she had a relationship for three years but didn't get married to. They started to separate eight months into her pregnancy. Lulu was born the same night as Johnson's childrens wear collection, but she said that the show must go on and it did. She had the show and the baby.
In 1978, Johnson finally partnered up with Chantal Bacon and created the Betsey Johnson Label. It was great for Johnson because now she had total creative control and was her own boss. Her first retail store for the line was in Soho, New York. In the early 1980's, Betsey Johnson was one of the first to open a store on Melrose Avenue. Now Melrose Avenue is an internationally known high end fashion street. Betsey Johnson currently has sixty five stores all over the world.
In 1999, Betsey was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She decided not to tell anyone about it besides her daughter Lulu. After surgery and radiation treatments, she was finally cancer free. Now she is a strong fundraiser to prevent breast cancer and has donated and raised a lot of money. A very fashionable Betsey Johnson item with 20% of the profits going to The National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund is her Breast Cancer 3/4 quarter sleeve tee.
Betsey Johnson has dressed hundreds of celebrities. The list includes stars such as Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Janis Joplin, Debbie Harry, Nico, Avril Lavigne, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Amy Whinehouse, Prince, Mischa Barton, Reese Witherspoon, Kate Moss, Britney Spears, Cameron Diaz, Lauren Conrad, and Blake Lively.