To be honest, I was having kind of a rough afternoon. It was all hustle, bustle and stress, dealing with things I didn’t want to deal with. But at the end of the day, there was a bright pink ray of light awaiting me. Betsey Johnson was appearing at Macy’s on State Street (along with her host Micah Jesse), and I had been invited to interview her. What I didn’t realize is that one doesn’t so much interview Betsey Johnson – you experience her. From the moment I walked into the gorgeous, grand secret conference room in the upper recesses of the historic Macy’s building, I realized this would be an experience like no other.
I came in, wearing my favorite Betsey Johnson necklace, expecting one thing. The first thing Betsey said was: “Oooh I love your hair, does it do it naturally?” And we were off to the races.
Betsey and I talked hair, travel and LIFE. I learned that she’s been doing her signature hair extensions for decades – she unabashedly admits it’s plastic hair – her stylist Andrew can take up to 12 hours to create her trademark style. “I discovered Andrew in the late 70’s, in England. If I’m in NYC, I fly him in. But now I’m bicoastal and we’re living in Malibu…it’s a wicked flight. It wipes you out for a few days. I maybe wash it every two weeks.” Close up her hair is a little Barbie with a dash of George Clinton. She beamed with recognition when I mentioned the Parliament Funkadelic frontman.
“Did you get some champagne? OK ladies! I need my bubbles for energy. Appearances are so high energy. But I love to see everyone for that moment,” said Betsey. An assistant fetched a glass and filled it with champagne. “Cheers, my dear!” Next thing I know, Betsey Johnson and I were sipping and giggling — such a surreal moment with such an iconic person. Betsey ruminated on a variety of topics – it was more like hanging out than an actual interview. I learned that she divides her time between NYC and LA. She loves Negril, Jamaica and she’s got a vacation home in Mexico (she was shocked that I’ve never been and insists that I must go). This may sound a bit new-agey, but her energy can be described in colors – Betsey is fuchsia and orange and gold. Bold, bubbly, welcoming, shimmering.
I had to ask questions about the sheer variety of products that bear her name. Betsey Johnson will forever be known for her dresses and jewelry, but now besides clothes and accessories and shoes, you can decorate your home and your life in Betsey Johnson. She’s got wallpaper and kitchenwares and bedding. I love the vastness of her collection. But as a plus size bella, I’d love to see Betsey offer more in my size than sleepwear and the occasional trench coat. Betsey admitted that there are additional challenges to plus design that she’s encountered. “We have licensing agreements with different kinds of product people. And it’s all what they wanna do,” she explained. OK, but I would look adorable in a Betsey Johnson dress, just saying.
Right now at Macy’s you can find an incredible variety of Betsey Johnson goodness, from her traditional kitschy bags and jewelry to super cute shoes – I’m really loving her Blue by Betsey Johnson shoes, so many cute flats! She truly loves her partnership with Macy’s, because they get her aesthetic and allow her to be herself. “Every company gets that I’m pretty and I’m punk. There are two sides to every girl… That’s why I have a wonderfully huge collection of items people can choose from,” she explained. Her business has changed, it’s restructured, and it’s grown. And Betsey couldn’t be happier or more excited about that. “It’s been amazing. I thought it was all over when we sold, but no. it just started a different beginning. And this is a beginning with LOTS of girls. I’ve always loved mass production and affordable clothes. And that’s what it is.” You can shop Betsey Johnson clothes, shoes and accessories at Macy’s. For much more, including her latest wallpaper collaboration, visit betseyjohnson.com.