Betsey Johnson hangs out with a fan during the Betsey Johnson-Urban Outfitters launch party in New York.

NEW YORK Betsey Johnson is back.

Fresh from open-heart surgery, the Los Angeles-based fashion designer came to Manhattan to celebrate the launch of her new collaboration with Urban Outfitters.

Hundreds of fans and fashionistas showed up for Thursday night’s party, held at Urban Outfitters’ Herald Square store, to shop the collection, dance to tunes by DJ twin sisters Angel and Dren, drink festive cocktails with names like Betsey’s Bubbly Prosecco and the Prom Queen, and meet the designer herself.

“What inspires me, it’s not fight; it’s the drive to keep my name good,” Johnson told WWD. “Because when you sell and you license, [companies] can wreck you. They can ruin you.”

But she said the collaboration with Urban Outfitters, a 10-piece, Nineties-inspired ready-to-wear collection that launched online and in select stores on May 13, was a natural fit.

“Beginning to end, [Urban Outfitters] loved me; they supported me,” Johnson said. “I trust them. I don’t know what’s trending. I don’t shop anymore. But Urban gets me.”

Images of the Betsey Johnson-Urban Outfitters collaboration hang on the walls of the New York City flagship, including the white, ribbon dress Johnson said is a bestseller.  Kellie Ell/ WWD

The designer, whose career spans more than five decades and is known for closing out her fashion shows with a split on the catwalk, remains as outspoken as ever, even in her seventies. The ever-quotable Johnson weighed in on: 

• Her own career: “I built my entire life on dresses, prom dresses. Who’d have thought that dumb, white ribbon dress would have sold?” Johnson said, pointing to a piece in the collection. “But it’s a bestseller.”

• Who she’s designing for: “There are girls out there [that] Tommy Hilfiger doesn’t know about; that the masses don’t know about.”

• And New York City’s potential fur ban. “Only rich ladies want real fur. So let them go buy it on their own.”

That could be why fans are so drawn to her, circling around the designer, trying to capture the perfect selfie. But Johnson — sporting one of her own designs, a pink tube dress, along with chunky jewelry and a blue wig with nails to match — was in good spirits as she drank wine straight from the bottle, her bright red lipstick visible on the brim.

Now, she said she’s just happy that people in the fashion industry remain interested in her. “I mean, I’m 76,” she said. “I could be dead.”

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