Embellished might be an understatement when describing the designs of Betsey Johnson. Her clothing and jewelry are often called “over-the-top” but anything less just wouldn’t be Betsey. Before a visit to a San Antonio Dillard’s, she shared a bit about her inspiration and things she just can’t live without.
Q: Your clothing and jewelry lines feature everything from butterflies and bumble bees to skulls and skeletons; from what do you draw inspiration for your eclectic and often edgy designs?
A: From me and my life and the streets and anything and everything.
Q: How has your design aesthetic changed since you opened your first boutique in 1969 and how do you see it evolving as you continue working in the fashion industry?
A: It changes because the world changes and my life changes with it. Back then I was an insecure girl with my blinders on — I was blinded by what everyone wanted me to do and couldn’t see what I really wanted to do. But now I get to do it my way!
Q: Speaking of fashion shows, you’re known for doing a cartwheel at the end of yours, how did that come to be and are you still cartwheeling?
A: I hope to until the day I die. I started doing it about 10 or 12 years ago — I was so excited after the show that I cartwheeled out all my excitement!
Q: If you could save only one of your pieces from a “fashion apocalypse,” what would it be and why?
A: I would have to save two things: a puffy, tulle ballerina-ness prom type dress and a skin tight, Monroe-esque, va va voom sheath dress.
Q: If you could save only one piece from your closet, that you didn’t design, what would it be and why?
A: My black leather Alexander McQueen suit-tailed military jacket OR my Alexander McQueen insect printed tight tee shirt dress with my vintage New York belt.
Q: What Betsey Johnson essential should every woman own? Why?
A: A tutu dress because it’s classic Betsey!
Q: If we caught up with you at home on a weekend afternoon, what would you be wearing?
A: A rock n’ roll tee shirt with some crazy cutoff jeans.
Q: Do you have a favorite designer? If so, who and why?
A: Vivienne Westwood because we share the same basic ideas.
Q: Is there a celebrity you’d love to design for? Who and why?
A: Katy’s worn my stuff, Nicki’s worn my stuff. I guess I’d love to help out by designing for the next big name in music – whoever that may be!
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