Betsey Johnson

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Betsey Johnson Additional Information

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Betsey Johnson Handbags (born August 10, 1942) is an American fashion designer best known for her feminine and whimsical designs. Many of her designs are considered “over the top” and embellished. She also is known for doing a cartwheel at the end of her fashion shows.

Betsey was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the second of three children born to Lena and John Johnson. She has an older sister, Sally, and a younger brother, Robert. Betsey grew up in Terryville, Connecticut and took many dance classes, which inspired her love of costumes.

Following her graduation from high school, Johnson studied at the Pratt Institute and then later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Syracuse University, where she was a member of the Alpha Xi Delta women’s sorority. After graduation, she spent a summer as an intern at Mademoiselle magazine.

Johnson’s fashion career started after she entered and won the Mademoiselle Guest Editor Contest. Within a year, she was the in-house designer for Manhattan boutique Paraphernalia. Johnson became part of both the youthquake fashion movement and Andy Warhol’s underground scene, along with The Velvet Underground, Edie Sedgwick and Lou Reed.

She opened a boutique called Betsey Bunky Nini on New York City’s Upper East Side. Edie Sedgwick was her house model and Johnson designed the clothing Sedgwick wore on her last film, Ciao! Manhattan.

Johnson took control of the fashion label “Alley Cat” which was popular with the rock ‘n roll musicians of the day in the 1970s, . During her first year, her debut collection for Alley Cat reportedly sold $5 million in volume.

In 1978, Johnson started her own fashion line. Her second collection did not sell well, leaving her with 3,000 pieces of spring clothing and insufficient funds to stage a 1981 fashion show to sell them and Johnson opened a retail store in the SoHo area of New York City.

She designed the dress that Lisa Loeb wore in the music video for her 1994 hit “Stay (I Missed You)”.