I remember the first time I came across Betsey Johnson. It was my joint 16th birthday treat with my cousin, who is also my best friend, and whose birthday lies only a couple of months before mine. We were treated by our grandmother to a trip to New York with her and my mother.
My aunt, the author Lauren Henderson, was living in the heart of SoHo at the time and as a local, naturally, took us shopping. I remember Betsey Johnson in particular, not because of the clothes, but by the illustrations decorating the shop walls. The cartoonishly kitsch, yet glamorous girls.
Not to say I did not like the clothes either. It appealed to the 'alternative' style path I followed in my mid-teen 'Hole' faze. Corsets, girlish prints in black, white and pink, skulls and, above all, tutus.
Looking at her fall 09 collection it can be safely said that not too much has changed in this respect. Her designs are still very much cutesy girl with a rockabilly punk edge. She didn't even take her designs to the runway; instead showcasing her work in a 50s style diner with her infamous illustrations claiming the place as her own.
I may be 6 years older than when I first fell in love with Betsey, but I still found myself longing to snatch up half of her clothes as I eagerly devoured photographs of her new collection. Perhaps it is because I am still a girly girl at heart. Perhaps it is because her style is so street worthy. So very New York cool, yet in no way New York chic. And although I do love chic, sometimes all I want to do is run around in a tutu and a skull print cardigan with ribbons on my stockings.
Saying all that her designs aren't exactly stuck in a rut. She simply marks everything as her own very clearly. I mean, who else would have designed rose print harem pants?