If you look in the dictionary under “ageless and timeless” you might well see a picture of veteran fashion designer, Betsey Johnson, who recently threw a pool party at Hollywood’s Sunset Tower Hotel to celebrate her move to Malibu and showcase her latest unique spring/summer designs. The party, produced by Fire and Crème, included special performances by the LA ROLLER GIRLS and the acclaimed synchronized swimming/dance company, Aqualillies. Guests enjoyed poolside cocktails with the designer then danced the night away to music by Amy Pham.
At 73, Betsey has the energy of someone in her 20s; it’s no wonder she competed on Dancing With the Stars two years ago! (this is a woman who still does cartwheels at the end of her fashion shows!) As a fashion icon, Betsey has seen hundreds of fashion trends come and go since the 1960’s. She offered Gloss readers some sage wisdom: “When it comes to style, don’t let anyone define you! Figure out what works on you, be it color, patterns, texture—and go for it!” she quipped. Just back from London, where she saw fellow fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, Johnson talked to us about her flirty, unusual style.
Why did you decide to have the party?
Betsey Johnson: I moved to Malibu–after the last New York blizzard last year, my daughter and her husband and two grandkids decided ‘we’re outta here!’ It’s night and day! I am very happy to have a new thing called Malibu, I know NY and LA; Malibu is like a real different kind of move. It’s very awakening and fun. When I move I get to decorate and create a whole new world. I love it. We are renting and also building a home there.
What style tips do you have for girls?
BJ: Girls just want to have fun! i wish girls would just figure it out themselves; just live it and experiment and try different things. I don’t particularly have any style tips, you just have to feel good about the way you look. I don’t know what that is (for them) I know what it is for myself finally, I got myself figured out. But I think that the style tip is to not worry so much, play, have fun and be a little adventurous. Just do what you want. That’s a hard thing in fashion; we have grown up with the do’s and the don’ts. When you get to my age, you gotta figure it out. No matter what, it’s clearer to you what you want to do and be and wear and look like. You get comfortable in that.
But with young women, they don’t have a comfort zone yet, so they have to experiment and find out what they like. Now with the internet and all that stuff, our bible is not fashion magazines. It’s part of it, but it’s so much more.
Are we more adventurous now with what we wear?
BJ: I think I reach more girls now. We had a very hard time staying in business with that fun, far out, stuff. We had our hits and misses. For me, the big fashion change was when MTV started. It’s like another world, because you got to see a lot of different people and looks. That was very far out. But every generation has its thing. The difference I see is in the ’60s, you would look at a magazine and there was a Twiggy look. And then the ’70s and ’80s had its own wacky uniqueness. And now it’s a free for all, with the computer, the phone…Now if you look at a magazine, there are a million concepts in it, which is great, you have a real span of stuff. Fashion isn’t taken seriously like it used to be, which is a very big thing. That’s why I like my price range, everything doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
How would you describe your style?
BJ: Whatever! What ever I like, I wear! That’s it! And I like a bunch of things! I like pretty simple things, black and white and stripes. I used to wear tutus and really outlandish stuff, like what the skaters are wearing here at the party. I don’t feel like that anymore. There’s always Halloween though, my clothes are a big hit at that time! I am so happy to be making things girls can wear, as well bedding and items for the home. I love that my collection is very happy and makes you feel good.That’s my style. It’s feel good stuff. You have to enjoy it. I never met a customer who bought something and didn’t look great in it. Why? Because she liked it and that’s what works.