My love affair started with Betsey Johnson when I accepted an internship in her design house back in 2001. I was still in college. Breast cancer survivor, beats to her own fashion drum, makes everything around her bright, beautiful and whimsical – she is my fashion idol. She single-handedly lit the flame that became a love for style that is unique, heartfelt, and in your face.
Working at Betsey Johnson was the very start to my now 11 year career in the fashion industry. I worked as a designer for 8 years in New York City (working at various apparel design firms) and then moved to Los Angeles in 2009 to take my unique and targeted knowledge of style and fashion to the next level. I started my own business as an image consultant so I can teach women how to find their own unique style, but most importantly, how to beat to their own unique fashion drum. Just like Betsey taught me.
I probably have 15 pairs of Betsey Johnson heels that I have collected over the years. My first pair, worn to the death, I called my Marathon Heels. I’ve had them since 2001 and I will never let them go. They were the perfect platform. I have a million and one stories with every dress, blouse, skirt, shoe and necklace I’ve worn that is Betsey Johnson. There is something truly memorable about her pieces, so that even though they are not being worn, in my closet those memories, those moments in them are never forgotten!
When I heard Betsey was shutting all of her stores as a result of her bankruptcy, my heart just dropped. What would life be like without that bright pink awning driving down Melrose Avenue? And when I go back to NYC, what would Wooster Street be like without her original store and bold hot pink flag that always caught my eye and made me smile? That was the only reason why I turned onto Wooster between Prince and Houston. It’s truly sad and possibly the end of an era. The “Betsey girl” is forever engraved in me as well as in all the original “Betsey girls” out there, but perhaps she got older, started shopping differently and passed on her style aesthetic to a younger generation who didn’t appreciate it as much as we did. The younger generation of shoppers is fickle and keeping relevant in the market is an uphill battle. Betsey may have lost the market battle, but to those of us who are her original “Betsey girls” – with our spunk, our statements and our splash of garden floral or 80s tulle – Betsey will always hold a special place in our hearts. Even if there are no stores, I will still continue my love affair for Betsey. Now that there is less of her, I know I have so much more value in the pieces that I hold dear to me and they make all those memories, so much more special.
So in honor of Betsey, I say to you: March to your own style drums. Be you, be unapologetic, be a survivor, and keep marching on! Cheers Betsey!
Laurie B, your forever fan