The Essence of Betsey

Fashion Designer Betsey Johnson and Agenda columnist Elana Pruitt

Fashion Designer Betsey Johnson and Agenda columnist Elana Pruitt

There are critical moments that happen in life—the kind that take your breath away, affirming that you are right where you should be. For some this moment could be as simple as sitting in the sun with a hummingbird nearly right at your fingertips. For others it could be as life-altering as giving birth to their first child. And then there are the critical moments in a fashion journalist’s career that attest to one’s skills, sacrifices, and drive. My recent 10-minute sit-down with Betsey Johnson was more than a moment—it was a slice of heaven. No, scratch that—a slice of reality that I’ve been preparing for my entire life. (I’m just still reckoning with the fact this dreamy experience really did exist.)

The Saturday, August 18th event at Nordstrom at the Grove in Los Angeles was such a full-circle-kinda-thing for me; I worked for the company for more than three years while I made my way through college, selling and trying on Betsey Johnson pieces in between helping customers. So when I received my invite to ameet-and-greet with this one-of-a-kind designer at Nordstrom, in celebration of The Grove’s 10th Anniversary, I immediately doodled the date down in my planner. I also quickly asked if I could have a chance to ask Betsey a few questions before the store event.

Soon thereafter, her lovely team of reps situated everything out so that this could happen, and before I knew it (about a week later) I was standing in Nordstrom with other media, waiting for my turn to talk to Betsey—the fabulous woman who has made major marks on the fashion industry for more than four decades. Yes, the woman who is known to do cartwheels on the catwalk after her fashion shows.

Betsey Johnson Celebrates The 10 Year Anniversary Of The Grove With A One-Of-A-Kind Anniversary Shoe

Betsey Johnson at Nordstrom at the Grove Amongst Fans.

When I entered Betsey’s greenroom, she greeted me with a sincere hug and a glass of sparkling champagne. (“Have some. It’s Saturday!” she said.) I graciously accepted a glass and followed Betsey to the couch. Cheery, all smiles, and touching, studying, and appearing fascinated with the sides of my D&G glasses, she made me feel an immediate sense of comfort. “Ohhh . . . I haven’t seen anyone wear branded glasses in a long time,” she said. After explaining how I’d be completely blind without glasses and that I might as well embrace my lack of vision with something cute, I asked her my first question: “You are credited for putting the ‘fun in fashion.’ What does it feel like being the queen of this movement?”

Betsey, still all smiles, responded with “Well, all my customers are my friends. Period.” She went on to explain that being budget-conscious is important in fashion. “A pair of shoes shouldn’t cost more than a weekend vacation getaway,” she said. The now 70-year old fashion designer also talked about comfort, and how she designs various styles of heels for that very reason, from the platform tennis shoe to the stiletto.

Considering that she has lived and designed through several years of fashion statements, it was only natural that I asked what her thoughts were in regards to the styles of today. “There are no rules! Anything goes today,” Betsey excitedly said, after acknowledging such notable eras as the sixties (“It was Janice Joplin and bell bottoms”) up to the nineties (“bias-cut pieces”). Listening to Betsey speak about fashion, her brand, and the hot-pink, studded layer cake stiletto (“The Grovee”) she designed exclusively for the Nordstrom event was an honor, to say the least. Betsey’s passion is pure, contagious, and inspirational.

"The Grovee" - Betsey Johnson at Nordstrom at the Grove Amongst Fans

"The Grovee" - Betsey Johnson at Nordstrom at the Grove Amongst Fans

As I rode down the elevator, still bubbling over with delight that I was able to speak with Betsey, whose creativity was said to develop amidst her aspirations as a dancer and a lover of costumes, I witnessed the love from her fans: a lengthy line of anxious individuals wrapped around the women’s shoe department eagerly anticipating Betsey’s presence. Turned out that more than 500 loyal fashionistas flooded Nordstrom at the Grove that afternoon. While there, fans were able to shop the debut of her exclusively designed hot-pink shoe. In addition, guests who made a qualifying purchase of at least 50 bucks received an exclusive “thank you” gift from Betsey herself, a complimentary tote bag, and had the chance to get a photo with the amazing fashion icon.

So . . . that was my moment. And it was quite the experience that I am happy to have shared with you! If you adore Betsey and her collections of shoes, accessories, clothes, and handbags as much as I do, be sure to follow her on Twitter (@xoBetseyJohnson). Also, be sure to keep a lookout for her new reality show with daughter Lulu, coming to the Style Network in spring 2013. Eeek! . . . Can’t wait.

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2 Comments to “The Essence of Betsey”

  1. Elana says:

    Hey Beth!!! Thanks for reading. Yeah, it was definitely the chance of a lifetime. We connected, and it was so very enjoyable. xoxo

  2. Oh Elana! I’m so excited for you! What an incredible experience to not only see Betsey, but to get a chance to speak with her one-on-one. xoxo