Known for her idiosyncratic, whimsical and feminine designs, Betsey Johnson is a fashion designer from America, born on 10 August 1942. Her designs are over the top, exuberant and embellished extensively. Over the years, she has been true to her unique sense of style and vision and has survived successfully in an industry known to the world as being fickle. This is because her designs change with time but never lose the purity of originality and individuality. As far as her personality and personal life is considered, it is as vibrant, exciting and unpredictable as her work.
Betsey is from Connecticut and is the daughter of John Johnson and Lena, and the sister of Sally and Robert. After high school, she went to Pratt Institute and then graduated from Syracuse University. Since childhood, Betsey had an interest in dance and costumes and had aspirations to pursue a career in these two fields laid the base for her inspiration and creativity.
Following the completion of her education, Betsey did an internship at Mademoiselle publication. Her career took-off when she won a contest at the magazine. In less than a year, she became a fulltime designer for Paraphernalia, a boutique in Manhattan. In 1969, she introduced a boutique named Betsey Bunky Nini on Upper East Side, New York. Her permanent model was Edie Sedgwick and Betsey also designed clothing for the film Ciao! Manhattan. In the 70s, she took charge of Alley Cat, a fashion brand popular among rock musicians of that time. She did a fantastically good job and her debut line for the label sold merchandise worth five million dollars. In 1972, she was presented with the Coty Award for her exceptional work. In 1978, Betsey Johnson launched her own collection that received positive appraisal. However, her next line didn’t do as good and she was left with 3,000 clothing pieces. This brought Betsey to a point of insufficient money to stage a fashion show in 1981 to sell out her work. Later, she opened a store in New York City’s SoHo area. Since 2011, she owns sixty-five shops worldwide.
Moving on, Betsey designed an outfit for Lisa Loeb, she wore it in Stay – I Missed You, a music video shot in 1994 and became a hit. Eight years later, she was included in the Fashion Walk of Fame. In 2004, she expanded her line to include scarves, hats, accessories, and handbags. Four years later, Betsey contributed to Cherry Bomb, a book by Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna. In 2009, she was received the Lifetime Achievement Honor in Fashion by the National Arts Club.
Betsey Johnson, no doubt, has been an active person and hence she became a member of a musical, fashion and cultural movement youthquake, and another by Andy Warhol. Others who joined, included Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick and The Velvet Underground.
In 2012, Betsey celebrated forty years of her company by exhibiting her work at a fashion show with a presentation performance by Cyndi Lauper. A year later, a reality show on Betsey and her daughter was aired on Style Network.
It was in 1967, when she married John Cale and in a year only, divorced him. Then in 1975, she had Lulu, her daughter who’s father left them when she was born. Lulu is very much different from her mother, both in appearance and personality.
Betsey was once diagnosed with breast cancer from which she survived and since then supports programs spreading of awareness about the disease. Apart from this, she has undergone several plastic surgeries on her face.