The one thing you can always count on from a Betsey Johnson runway show is the presence of a well-executed theme. In fact, one of the reasons Johnson rarely showed at the tents in the past during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (while it was at Bryant Park) was because of the venue space/size/shape limitations – The stages at Bryant Park could never support her theatrical productions properly (or at least, to her liking). This year, inside the massive building known as Lincoln Center (or as I lovingly call it, The Fashion Airport), Betsey “returned to the proverbial tents” so to speak, to present “Le Tour de Betsey,” her Spring 2011 collection.
Much like the real Tour de France cycling race, Betsey’s show was split into stages, or “fashion stops,” throughout an imaginary excursion of New York City. The stops outlined in Betsey’s tour started in Brooklyn (naturally), to The Met, to Central Park, to “Betsey Stores” (near Tribeca and Soho), to the Seaport, and then to finish in Times Square for a New Year’s Eve-style celebration. The bicycle theme was most likely inspired by Betsey’s daughter Lulu, as Betsey recently told New York Family Magazine, “I hate bicycles!” and also confessed to the magazine that she rarely ever exercised. (September, 2010)
Despite claiming to “dislike tha bike”, Betsey kicked off her runway show by playing pre-taped video scenes of herself cruising around on her bike all alone through a deserted Lincoln Center, getting ready for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Later on in the evening, Betsey played a movie montage featuring a few scenes of old home videos of The Johnson Family’s bike rides from the past.
As the models began sauntering down the runway, it quickly became obvious that Betsey’s outfits advertised and promoted physical exercise, albeit not of the cycling variety. The models each wore large-scale crystal necklaces emblazoned with the words “Ride Me” and most of the Brooklyn-themed models had Spike Lee-style biker hats on, with bike chains slung around their hips in place of belts. The looks were identified in the program with titles, most of which were sexually suggestive, including: “Hole in One”, Multi-Bang”, “Hit My Spot”, Rear Ender”, “Ride Me Hard”, and an Orange ruffled gown called “Orange You Glad You Rode Me”? To look authentic, some of the models even had facial hair painted on their faces. Lycra, tousled hair, half-finger gloves, and sunglasses completed most of these looks. Props like spare bike tires were being toted by the models. When model Kim Matulova (who was wearing clear BJ stripper heels) playfully attempted to hop on the skateboard down the runway, she took a little spill – and lost a shoe. But she popped back up and carried on. That’s soooo Missbehave ☺
As the show progressed, the style at each station reflected the geographical region in the city. As the map went uptown, so too did the looks – Instead of the bright yellows and reds of the Brooklyn girls, the clothes for the ladies at The Met stop were done mostly in classy blacks and whites. Standouts in this NY sub-category included a funky black trench coat called “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’”, A leotard with a rib cage printed on it called, “Bad to the Bone”, and the preppy, Racquet Club-inspired one-piece, “Watch My Bumper Jumper”.
As the tour rode on through Central Park, the ensembles became mostly flowered printed dresses; perfect for a picnic in the park (especially when paired with lunch tins in the shape of sandwiches!)
The offerings from the Betsey Store stop indicated least about their particular geographic region in NYC, but the ombre neon orange and pink crinoline dress, “Fizzy Lizzy”, was to most delicious Sno-Ball offering of them all.
Off again and onto the Seaport, the chicks finally get to have their version of Fleet Week, as seen in the navy and white versions of the two-piece outfits called “Officer” and “Gentleman”. Betsey proves that you can keep these tailored items from looking too stuffy with American flag open-toed booties, playful sailor hats, and whistles. Or, just pair the nautical pieces with gold biker shorts, to “Blow” them all “Away”.
To end Betsey’s fashion excursion, her fashion gps leads the audience to the playful and joyous New Year, and along with a stop in Times Square, six neon-splattered gowns that would be perfect for Barbie and the Rockers. Standouts include the strapless, lace gown labeled “Four!” and the outrageous finale gown, the glittery purple and blue stained bustier gown with the tulle skirt. These are the kinds of dresses every girl secretly hopes to wear, even if the public and pages of US magazine may be prompted to ask, “What was she thinking?”
So, did Betsey come out and do her signature finale cartwheel? Yes – but not before she took a ride down half of the runway with her low-rider bike to the song “Slow Ride”. Gangsta! All the models then came out to Usher feat. Jay-Z”s “Hot Tottie”, waving the flags at the finish line. Usually the rider of the Tour de France wears yellow at the end of the race to indicate his winning time…..and it’s fitting that Betsey wore yellow at the end of her show, as her runway presentation conquers all others during Fashion Week.
Celeb attendees at the show: Carmen Electra, Kristyin Cavallari, Angela Simmons, Ciara, Denise Richards, Kelly Osbourne, and some little 10-year old girl wearing a hot pink throw rug.
Goody bag: Vintage Betsey Johnson perfume (a re-launch from 1983!), BJ socks, BJ thongs with logo “Ride Me,” Stila Black Diamond Mascara in Black Shimmer, and RedkenWax Blast 10.
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