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Betsey Johnson, The Levy Group to Launch Dress Line

Three months after Betsey Johnson LLC filed Chapter 11, the designer is preparing to unveil a new line that will debut in stores this spring.

NEW YORK — Three months after Betsey Johnson LLC filed Chapter 11, Betsey Johnson has joined forces with The Levy Group to launch a dress line that will debut in stores this spring.

This story first appeared in the August 7, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Johnson, who turns 70 on Friday, will unveil what is said to be “solid and printed sexy, flowing dresses” during her retrospective runway show next month. The new line is a collaboration between Johnson and The Levy Group’s design director, Suzi Chin.

In late April, it was revealed that Betsey Johnson LLC would close the bulk of the designer’s boutiques and about 350 staffers were let go. At that time, Johnson, who is creative director of her brand, and Steve Madden, founder of Steven Madden Ltd., which owns the designer’s intellectual property, said the apparel would be taking a new direction. In May, Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Hilco Merchant Resources joined forces to liquidate Betsey Johnson inventory.

The Betsey Johnson dress line will retail between $99 and $249 and will be sold in better boutiques and department stores.

The Levy Group, which has produced Johnson’s licensed outerwear for the past five years, is entering into the dress business for the first time. The New York-based firm is a third generation family-owned business that has until now specialized in outerwear. As part of its plan to expand into the dress category, The Levy Group has hired Phillip Gaynor as president of dress brands.

The Levy Group’s president Donald Levy said, “We are [pleased] to be working with Betsey on her new dress collection. It was a natural progression to continue into another category.”

Johnson started her sportswear label in 1978, and branched out into other categories in 2004. Her design portfolio now includes intimates, handbags and leather goods, footwear, watches, jewelry, eyewear, swimwear, legwear, outerwear, luggage and fragrance. Today the brand is carried in more than 2,000 specialty stores.