Betsey Johnson is getting a facelift.

This story first appeared in the November 12, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In addition to opening seven to 10 freestanding stores next year, the contemporary designer is unveiling a new decor. The design concept, which launched in the company’s newest boutique in the Topanga Mall in Canoga Park, Calif., late last month, reflects what Chantal Bacon, chief executive officer of Betsey Johnson, calls a fresh, modern take on the brand.

“Instead of the bright pink stores, we’ve decided to make them all very sparse and white in order to have a backdrop which allows you to see the clothes better,” Bacon explained. “It’s also fun for us to introduce something new.”

The boutique at the Topanga Mall is the first of its kind, with openings to follow in Dallas’ NorthPark Center on Nov. 24 and Canada’s Calgary Eaton Centre next week. The 1,200-square-foot Topanga store features crisp white walls as an alternative to the brand’s traditional neon pink walls and checkerboard floor interior. The new airy metal fixtures and display cases together with hot pink hangers, life-size mannequins and dress forms display the apparel, swimwear, lingerie and costume jewelry. As an added kitschy element, signature colorful Betsey Johnson petticoats hang from the white ceilings, almost as though they were light fixtures. Johnson’s portrait is printed in life-size black-and-white images on neon pink, yellow and blue dressing room curtains.

Bacon said she and Johnson plan to have the new design formula in all new stores and eventually the existing 63 locations in the U.S., Canada, Japan and the U.K.

The new design stems from Johnson’s own move from an apartment in New York’s downtown area to the Upper East Side. After living downtown since the mid-Sixties, Johnson said she developed a new-found attraction to “the uptown chic,” and wanted her new home to be a blend of uptown and downtown design. The result is a fresh, open white space, which made her think that would also be a good way to showcase her collection in her stores.

“This new store design comes at a perfect time for us as we are adding some more casual, T-shirt dressing-like pieces to the collection,” Bacon said. “We will be much more well-rounded in terms of product category, so it will be great to see all of this product displayed in our newly designed stores.”

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