On Monday night in the Palm Court of The Plaza hotel after a Christmas Tree lighting and tea party in her honor, Betsey Johnson carried out some mischief worthy of Eloise, the beloved children’s lit character in whose honor she has designed a suite for upstairs.
“I don’t think anybody at The Plaza hotel is going to miss a napkin,” the designer grinned, using one to wrap gingerbread men, miniature pumpkin tarts and chocolate peppermint bark from a nearby étagère into an impromptu goody bag. “Oh, and take a candy cane, for Christ’s sake,” Johnson insisted, brandishing a confection the width of a cigar and the length of a toddler’s forearm in a shade of fuchsia familiar to fans of her clothing line.
“Oh, the relationship we have with The Plaza…it’s relationship heaven,” Johnson explained, wrenching her hair into a high ponytail as she talked. “I love when I do cornball silly things, you know, but I love it more when I have to go through huge corporate structures and they have to take a gamble on me.”
Johnson turned to take in the tree, which was covered in pink tulle and Eloise-themed ornaments such as turtles, dogs, and a nanny as well as Johnson-themed ones like lips, glitter and spangles.
“Now I’m hoping that they’ll do my last — not last — ” Johnson corrected herself, “my last public Super Bowl of birthdays, which will be my 70th birthday next August. I want them to throw me a party in this magnificent ballroom they have back there.”
The designer was interrupted by a 3-year-old wearing a light pink tea dress and rapidly losing one of her shoes as well as her patience.
“This is my Eloise,” Johnson explained as her granddaughter Ella expressed an urgent need to see Santa Claus.
“He goes home at 7 p.m. He has to go back to the North Pole, make some more toys,” Johnson explained seriously.
“But did he go already?” Ella continued.
“He went already, he’ll be back in the morning.” Johnson said as her granddaughter skipped off.
Johnson laughed. “We stayed here this weekend, me and my granddaughters, and boy, they have no idea how to behave in The Plaza hotel.” But isn’t that Eloise-worthy, if one thinks about it? Johnson shrugged. “Man, I was too middle class and poor to ever enjoy Eloise. The whole idea of Eloise was just waaaaay too uptown for me.”