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New York fashion designer Betsey Johnson (born 1942) was actually one of the first designers I had heard of when I started my education in fashion. Because her work and style was more relevant to me, the more I chose to learn more about her and her designs. As my knowledge about her grew, so did my admiration for her.


This eclectic designer has a background of dance with a passion for art – in which she combined both to create her avant garde designs. Observing the vivid art she portrays, her inspiration derived from the elaborate costumes she wore for her dance recitals. She had pursued her career in fashion after winning “Guest Editor Contest” on the Mademoiselle magazine in 1964 and only a year later, she landed a top designer position for Paraphernalia, a clothing boutique that had housed hottest young London designers. The new wave/punk era lifted her off into a bright fresh start as a designer and further into her career.

As enthusiastic and creative as she is, the well known trademarks in her work include bright neon dyes, puff sleeves, deep necklines, low waists along with sexy silhouettes, hippie inspired flowing fabrics and whimsical details. Incorporating the combination of art and dance into her designs puts her on a completely different level for fashion with unique, original pieces that display her love of detail and design heavily reflecting her life and business.

Betsey Johnson is a huge inspiration to me because she can change with the times but still stay true to her image and work by setting her own style that stands out from the rest. Being a trend setter like her motivates me to stay the artist that I strive to be and to be able to be identified by the type of work one portrays plays a lot in the role of being a designer.

I realized that making clothes is completing what a drawing can’t be—going from two dimensional to reality. – Betsey Johnson


With that said, here are some more fun facts about this wonderful artist :

  • She graduated magna cum laude in 1964 from Syracuse University after spending a year at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn to study art and design.
  • For her finales on the runways, she is famously known to do cartwheels (which shows her perkiness and excitement for her passion)betseyjohnsonrunwayspring2012mercedes4dzjswxmj-rl
  • At age 29 she was the youngest designer ever to receive the prestigious Coty Fashion Critics Award.
  • Some of her extremely creative works included unique fabrics using shower curtains, interior lining and pinstriped shirts from uniforms.
  • She was a former cheerleader in high school.
  • Her career took a drastic turn when she was diagnosed with breast cancer – but was able to recuperate after returning to full health.

Finally, on February 2015, she visited Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco, where I was able to meet her!


Truth be told, the experience itself was more than surreal. After taking this picture, I was able to speak with her one on one, where I had the chance to tell her how I really admired her and how much I love her work. Needless to say, I noticed it had brought tears to her eyes!

Although I consider myself a Betsey Babe I actually have not (yet) purchased a garment from her label, but moreover a good amount of her handbags.

The apparent consistency of bows, polka dots and stripes is what appeals to me – and I can easily recognize her design from a mile away. And I am pretty sure after being familiar with this specific designer one can begin to pick up the little details of her work as well.

Well, it has been a pleasure to share with you one of my favourite designers as well as my experience from actually meeting her. Thanks for reading!
Note : Photos in this post are not mine. I do not own them in any way.