Betsey Johnson has been America’s quirkiest fashion designer for a long time. Her edgy style rose in popularity in the late 1970s during the new wave era and is still popular today. Her brand is undeniably both flirty and sassy. Her pioneering style cemented her role in the fashion industry in the 1970s and has persevered into today’s fashion world.
Much of her fashion designs were inspired from her childhood passion for dance and art. Inspiration for much of her designs comes from her love of the elaborate costumes she wore in her dance recitals. Johnson discussed her earlier designs, “What I tried to do was a combination of dance and art.”
After college, Johnson started her design career at Paraphernalia, a New York boutique, that allowed her to hone her hippie-inspired style that she is so famous for. At this time, Johnson was especially inspired by designers and artists from London’s avant-garde scene, like Mary Quant and Andy Warhol.
After a brief career slump, Johnson started the Betsey Johnson label with ex-model Cantal Bacon in 1978, in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. The partnership has stayed strong throughout the years as their label has grown and flourished. Today, the company has 65 international stores.
In 2003, Johnson expanded the label into a lifestyle brand, incorporating signature prints and flair into a line of handbags, foot ware, swimwear and jewelry. There is no doubt that Johnson is an accomplished designer, winning countless awards and remaining a strong presence in the fashion industry after four decades.