Betsey Johnson draws a certain creative energy from personal appearances — a point she proved Wednesday night at Lord & Taylor's Manhattan flagship.
"I try to have one second of really being there with every customer that shows because it's a huge effort [for customers] to come to a store and show up with such devotion and love and enthusiasm, and buy the perfume and be so drop-dead crazy about me," said the irrepressible Johnson, who not only hugs but dances around with customers. She was speaking after the appearance, which garnered 200 people and an estimated $7,500 in sales for her eponymous women's fragrance. "It's like a fountain of youth to me. It's such a trip. They give me a hippie love energy that keeps it very exciting."
Such an attitude is typical of Johnson, whose boundless enthusiasm often shows itself in cartwheels down the runway at her ready-to-wear shows. "I've never wanted to be one of those designers on a pedestal," said Johnson. "I knew 42 years ago that I wanted to be the gal-next-door designer. I was terrified of the pedestal designers. I could never do that. I wanted to be the girlfriend designer."
And Johnson is at work on a new fragrance. While she kept mum on most of the details, she revealed that, like her first, her next scent was inspired by a vintage fragrance bottle. "We're waiting to try out the next name to be copyrighted," she said. "Every name you can think of is copyrighted! I really wanted a Lulu [her daughter's name] and a Layla [her granddaughter's name], a name that I can personally relate to — but it's amazing what's taken!"
She's also designing her next rtw collection — "it's based on what I call my granddaughter and my male friends," she teased. "It's very cornball. I can't tell anymore because I don't know if it's copyrighted!"
Johnson is also working on a host of licensing opportunities, including a new legwear line, and color cosmetics are in the discussion stages. But she doesn't plan to go overboard. "[When it comes to my licenses] I think about 'what am I missing in my retail stores?'" Johnson said. "But it's crucial for me to be a big-time part of the licensing, the get-to-know-you, the get-my-drift. Pierre Cardin had 159 licenses….I hope we cap off when it's way too much for me to be involved in."
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"