I remember the first time I wore a Betsey Johnson ensemble. I was looking for a dress for a college formal, and when I walked into the designer's spunky-cool shop at Fashion Island, there it was: a pink, cupcake-like confection billowing with tulle ruffles and wrapped in a sash. As I slipped it on, looking as if I were Asian Barbie Prom, I had to resist the urge to start twirling.
It was recently announced that the Betsey Johnson fashion line has filed for bankruptcy, and while I've outgrown the frilly mini-frocks, the news feels as though it's the end of era. The rag-doll-haired style heroine, known for doing cartwheels after her runway shows and spontaneously launching into the splits, brought a wild energy to the fashion world and helped us embrace our inner '80s-punk princess. "Girls do not dress for boys," she once said. "They dress for themselves and, of course, each other." Which is good because guys hated those leopard ankle platforms, crazy floral tights and ridiculous rhinestone rings that could double as weapons.
While most of the Betsey Johnson stores will be closing soon (sob!), it's not the last we'll be seeing of the 69-year-old designer. Her lower-priced label will still be available in department stores such as Macy's, and she still plans to have a runway show at New York Fashion Week next September. Best of all, she'll be starring in a reality show with her daughter, Lulu, who's trying to start her own clothing line. The series, Betsey + Lulu, will follow their zany journey, which I'm sure will involve sequins.
Betsey Johnson at Fashion Island, www.betseyjohnson.com.
In the meantime, grab some cool Betsey gear while you can. The Fashion Island location is having a liquidation sale, and everything in the store is 20 percent to 50 percent off. Among the online finds are mesh bow stud earrings ($24; originally $30), a Betsey Babe strap watch ($52; originally $65) and Lizzy combat boots ($75; originally $149.95).
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This column appeared in print as "RIP, Betsey Johnson Store."