6 Minutes with Betsey Johnson

The famed fashion designer unveiled her latest assortment of clothing and accessories at Somerset Collection
Photo Credit: Mick Rock

Ascending the escalator toward the executive offices at Macy’s at The Somerset Collection over the weekend, I got a bird’s-eye-view of a buzzing second floor. Men and women formed a line of concert proportions, not for a flash sale but rather for the chance to meet fashion icon, Betsey Johnson. Rubber-necking to identify the hype-man asking fans to rep their cities, I spot the energetic celebrity blogger and the event’s host, Micah Jesse (in an on-trend Hawaiian blazer, might I add).

Her first trip to the metro Detroit area, Betsey was in town to show off her latest collection of clothing and accessories. Consistent with the brand’s 40-year history of creating statement pieces in bold colors and whimsical prints, this season’s offerings include mismatch earrings adorned with charms and crystals and crossbody bags designed in shapes evoking summer days like pineapples, popsicle sticks, and sea creatures.

Managing Editor Lyndsay Green and Betsey Johnson

As I approached the Macy’s executive offices where I’d briefly interview Betsey Johnson before her visit with the adoring clan of shoppers, it was apparent that I’d adhered to the unofficial dress code in place for an interview with Betsey Johnson. Under the fluorescent lighting of the corporate office space, other media reporters glimmered in glitzy blouses. The sounds of metallic pumps clicked toward the door and layers of tulle tutus grazed the cubicles. I myself opted for a multicolored vintage sequin top.

Our attire was appropriate. Crossing the threshold into the space where we’d find Betsey putting the finishing touches on straw beach hats and playful fedoras, I was brought back to a familiar scene. Stocked with champagne, fruits, and sweets and in an evident pink-and-black color scheme, the room was reminiscent of the environment backstage of Betsey’s runway shows. As a young beauty editor in New York City, I was enamored with the scene at Lincoln Center: music blaring, celebrities posing for photos, models being touched up with metallic shadows and glossy lipstick. Years later, the 75-year-old designer still loves a party.

And her collection shows it. When asked who she keeps in mind when designing, the answer is simple: “Me,” she says. “Always me. I love bright colors, I was just born that way.” Who’s the collection for? “If you like it, it’s for you. It’s that simple.”

We digress into talks of horoscopes (“double Leo, Taurus rising,” she boasts); vacation plans (next stop: Santa Fe. “I’ve never been to Santa Fe but I love cactus and the desert,” she says, a possible nod to the inspiration behind the Lookin’ Sharp Mini Cactus Crossbody, $88); and her love for her trailer park home in Malibu (“It’s very funky. It’s right on the beach and circles up above Paradise Cove. I love it there.”).

Before I head to thumb through the racks, she gives me a warm hug and asks a question of her own: “Would you like a glass of champagne?” Cheers to another fun collection, Betsey. Bottoms up.

To shop Betsey Johnson’s summer collection, visit Macy’s Somerset, 2750 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-816-4000; macys.com.