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Betsey Johnson Interview


(SD) 1. Thank you for your time! What does it mean to you personally to be here today at Fashion on Ice?


(Betsey Johnson)

I am so excited to be here. I am so happy to be asked to do this and this makes me very nervous. It’s like doing a fashion show because I really want my part to be good, especially as I’m showing my stuff and then there is Gilles Mendel, who is a fabulous couture designer of real beautiful glamour and I’m up there with Rock and Roll t-shirts and more funk and punk.


I always wanted to be in the Ice Capades. When I was little I studied skating pretty seriously, but my cheerleading interfered, then college and all that. It is so great to see it all happen tonight. The only problem that may come up is the girls may fall out of their costumes on top. We’ve been hiking the straps for hours; but the kids look great.


It makes me very excited that I was asked to do the costumes. I didn’t get to meet the kids or anything, but I said the first step is send me their music, and send tapes of them skating. I need to know the music they are going to skate to. I got on the phone and talked with some of the kids. About three or four of them are in the New York City area so they came by for fittings.


Skating costumes really need to work; it’s not like doing a regular dress. When a skirt flies up, it all has to work. The music, the person and the outfit really, really work for this show. It is a very happy combination and marriage. That is when I feel I’ve done a good job, when it all fits right, and they’re happy and the outfit is really impressive.



(SD) 2. How did the invitation come together and what has it been like lending your talent to the costumes tonight?


(Betsey Johnson)

This buddy/girlfriend of mine, Christina Neault, has been in charge of the fashion shows, and all that in New York City for years. She works with IMG Group and they put on the shows. We are friends, she likes my work, she knows what my work means, and I work with her a lot. She just asked me to do this. She told me about the show. I thought, wow, costumes! Costumes are right up my alley. I am more of a costume designer than a serious clothing designer. She put me in touch with Steve, and the whole crew here. It was just a push to do this during fashion week as well, but I paced it and juggled between the two. The time deadline was the same.



(SD) 3. Being a designer, what inspires you to continue creating your unique fashion pieces?


(Betsey Johnson)

All of these costumes are actually my work. The sailor dress is a real little dress that I shipped was in stores this summer. The chiffon pointy, flowy, flowery, pink thing, was a design I did years ago that was never produced; it was too loud. The little pink tulle zip-up dress, which is called Film Noir, is one of my best sellers. I had the opportunity to think of the costume and I automatically thought that dress would be great. The best thing about this was I could do what I wanted. It is nice to show clothes that girls can go buy, but they are all very much my look.


It has been a great opportunity for me to show my work in this theatre and on the kids. The clothes really work and give enjoyment to the skaters, which I think is an important part for me. When the girl puts the dress on she feels something good, and I cannot wait to see them do it for real. I’ve seen the rehearsal and just can’t wait!



(SD) 4. What’s the mindset that you place yourself in when doing fashion events?


(Betsey Johnson)

Well I’m kind of scared to go out on my little whites. It is very exciting, it’s a celebration! Getting out on the ice after 30 years is crazy. Johnny is holding me up on one side and Sarah (Hughes) is holding me up on the other with the whole line-up of the kids and we all come out. I don’t have to do much and I could never fall down, because they are holding on to me.



(SD) 5. What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in life?


(Betsey Johnson)

That would be my daughter Lulu and after that my granddaughters, Layla and Ella; my family and kids. It is all great. I’ve always loved my work through thick and thin, up and down. Having the grandkids is first and foremost. Don’t ask any grandma that question, because they’re always going to say their grandkids. (Laughs)


After the interview with Betsey Johnson at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates:


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