In Conversation: Betsey Johnson and Fern Mallis at the 92Y

Betsey-Johnson-and-Fern-Mallis-The-92Y
Photo credit: An Rong Xu for the 92Y
Betsey-Johnson-and-Fern-Mallis-The-92Y
Photo credit: An Rong Xu for 92Y

She is an icon. A theatrical, energetic icon with a signature cartwheel that acts as one strand of DNA which makes up Betsey Johnson’s empire.

To give fans a glimpse of the inner workings of brand Betsey, she sat down with Fern Mallis, organizer of New York Fashion Week at the 92Y to share her story from the beginning and her journey throughout the fashion industry.

Interesting, unexpected and inspirational, here are 9 facts from the conversation, clearly showing that there’s only one:

1. On education: “I went to Pratt. I learned so much that I only realized what I learned 20-30 years ago.”

2. Her honors: She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Syracuse University while also the school’s head cheerleader.

3. Her start: She began her career at Mademoiselle when she won a guest editor contest and then started designing in-house for Paraphernalia, one of the first Youthquake boutiques.

4. Clients: Ahead of the curve, some of her first clients were Jackie Kennedy, Raquelle Welch, Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick.

5. Awards: At 29, she won the Coty Award for her work at Alley Cat.

6. Her stores: She opened Betsey Bunky Nini boutique which is still in business on New York’s Upper East Side.

7. Personal life: She lives in the same building as her grand children. Soon, fans will be able to see it all in her reality TV show “Betsey + Lulu.”

8. Her bucket list: “To fall in love.”

9. Advice: To emerging designers, “just keep on kicking ass.”

Learn more about the Icon series with Fern Mallis at the 92Y.

Emerging Designer or have a resource to share? Please feel free to contact me at hello@theemergingdesigner.com.

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