BJ, Betsey Johnson that is!

September 9, 2009

I have not been able to make a blog post in a while. But I am here today to give you a short and sweet ( with lots of pics) post on my first love in purses: Betsey Johnson.

A little anecdote: I got my first Betseyville purse from London when I turned 17. I fell in love with the quirky, cool designs she made. I went to her shop 5 out of the 14 days that I spent in London, buying every purse I thought I could not live without , both sale and full priced. I came back to the states and my purses were a hit among my peers. Girls all over wanted to know where I got my purses from and I was more than happy to tell them ” Oh, they are only the hottest thing from London.” Little would I know, Betsey would become insanely popular to the point where she started to sell her purses in Loehmans and other discount designer places… kind of bumming me out because that made my London originals loose their shine. But I still love them and I continue to buy Betseyville and Betsey Johnson Purses annually, only from her store of course.

So that’s my little history with Betsey, let me tell you about her history.

Born in Wethersfield, Connecticut August 10th 1942, this new york based designer was making her original designs since the 1960’s. Her inspiration, however, came from her desire to be a dancer and her love of the costumes.

In 1964 she entered and won the Mademoiselle magazine ” Guest Editor Contest” and then landed a position as top designer at Paraphernalia a year later .

As apart of the youth quake, the 1960’s Warhol scene, Betsey established her style with sexy silhouettes, hippie inspired fabrics, whimsical detailing and a great fit. If you ask me, her style seems to resemble that of Patricia Field very much.

Anyways, in 1969 she opened her first boutique called Betsey Bunki Nini.

In the early 1970’s she became the creative director of Alley Cat which was a rock ‘n roll clothing label.

She won a Coty Award in 1972, making her the YOUNGEST designer to ever received the honor, she was 30 years old.

After designing for other labels, Betsey teamed up with Chantal Bacon and started her current label, Betsey Johnson, in 1978. That same year they opened a store in Soho and in the early 80’s opened up on Melrose Avenue in LA.

In 2003 was when the licensing endeavors began, giving her the opportunity to make shoes, underwear, belts, eye wear watches, jewelry, purses and much more.

Also in 2003 she visited Mexico and purchased a hotel and named it Betseyville. She visits there to get inspired and to work. She purchased a second house in Mexico and named it Villa Betsey. Both homes were featured in In Style Homes in 2005.


I bet you didn’t know this: Betsey Johnson is a breast cancer survivor. She works as a strong advocate to fight against the disease. She was even appointed Honorary Chairperson for the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer initiative by the CFDA.

I learned some new information today. You all know that fashion week is approaching and everyone is doing all they can to get publicity. Well Betsey and Sharpie have joined forces and will make a sharpie shirt. Don’t worry, she isn’t the only one who will get to design with the permanent marker. There will be the first ever sharpie bar on select days during Mercedes Benz Fashion week where editors and attendees can get creative with plain white accessories, apparel and you can even draw on yourselves… but idk about that. Beginning September 15, fashionistas can visit http://www.sharpieuncapped.com to view some of the amazing Sharpie fashions and accessories, in addition to behind-the-scenes footage and an exclusive Betsey Johnson interview.


I don’t know about you but fashion has gotten a whole lot more hands on and customer oriented lately… maybe because they want us to buy more so brands like Alexander McQueen won’t sink like the Titanic.


Anyways Betsey has a daughter, Lulu, who was born in 1975 and inspired her freelance gig making Betsey Johnson’s Kids, a line for children in edition to a line for men and maternity.
Award Center
-1999 Timeless Talent Award from the CFDA
-2003 Coty Award
-2002 Fashion Walk of Fame
– 2004 honor by the National Breast Cancer Coalition
-2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from NAWBO-NYC committee
-2007 Designer of the Year Award from Fashion Accessories Benefit Ball

Some words from Betsey herself: “Making clothes involves what I like…color, pattern, shape and movement…I like the everyday process…the people, the pressure, the surprise of seeing the work come alive walking and dancing around on strangers. Like red lipstick on the mouth, my products wake up and brighten and bring the wearer to life…drawing attention to her beauty and specialness…her moods and movements…her dreams and fantasies.” – Betsey Johnson


citation: 1,2,3

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