This week's Love Letter post is about Betsey Johnson...
For those who haven't already heard, Betsey Johnson announced recently that she is closing all of her retail stores and the brand filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A very sad day for fashion! Apparently, she is still going to keep designing for other lower cost items (jewelry, lingerie, watches, and her pink patch line) and will be on an upcoming reality show with her daughter, Lulu, so she isn't going away for good! However, I'll definitely miss the experience of visiting her boutiques in person...
I still remember the first time I saw a Betsey Johnson store. I was at Lenox Mall in Atlanta with my mother, and I think I might have been 12 or 13 years old... We walked past the store and I begged to go inside. I don't remember any clothes specifically, just that there was a lot of purple leopard print, rose patterns, chartreuse lace, velvet and faux fur... I also remember the interior being darker and funkier than the stores are now, and they were playing really amazing punk, rock and new wave music. I was absolutely in love with all the aesthetics of Betsey Johnson as a teen - it wasn't like anything I had ever seen before! When I told my mom this, she replied that I "better get a nice job when I grow up if I want to buy clothes like that..." Ha! ;) The store ended up moving around a few times in the mall over the years - the above photo is when the shop here wasn't as edgy anymore and was more girly... the clothes stayed the same for the most part.
I never forgot what my mom said the first time I went to that Betsey Johnson store. To me this store represented a future where adults CAN be cool. Which I know is a silly thing, but my world at 13 was so small and I really didn't know any "cool" adults other than maybe my art teacher from elementary school. It was a neat concept that I held onto. I wanted to grow up to be a fun Betsey Johnson-esque adult!
Today I turned 29, and I'd like to think in the end I acquired that 13 year old hope. While I didn't shop at Betsey Johnson nearly as often as I would have liked - the times I did go were always memorable and I often bought some of my most treasured pieces of clothing there. (I could go on and on about the stories behind each piece of clothing I own from there but I wont bore you guys to tears. LOL!)
I eventually even had the opportunity to meet the designer last year, in which she was every bit as wonderful as I imagined. Betsey really embodies the spirit of her brand and took time to make everyone feel special and appreciated at the event. You can read more about my experience meeting her here!
So - after sharing all that... and being inspired after reading this post on Rookie, I thought I'd share some scans of postcards and tags I had saved over the years, along with photos of my favorite Betsey related stuff. Fun fact: Did you know Betsey illustrated all the doodles on her tags, packaging, posters and promo items? She is such a creative gal!! I love her drawings!
✂ More photos after the cut... ✂
After I got out of college and started traveling more, I made a point to find out if there were Betsey stores in the major cities I went to and to visit them during my trips! This was my first out of state store I went to... It was in 2007 and in downtown San Francisco. It was a lot like the original store we had in Atlanta when I was around 13 years old.
My boyfriend was living in California for an internship that year, and I visited while he was at work. It was such a fun and memorable experience exploring the city alone to find the store and I still adore the things I got there that day!
These photos are from the Betsey Johnson on Melrose in Los Angeles - taken during "Fashion's Night Out" in 2010. This was probably the biggest (size and stock wise) Betsey Store I've ever been in!! I remember being in dorky awe LOL... They even had a little sitting area up front which was converted to a faux "photobooth" with props for the night. I didn't buy anything, but I enjoyed visiting none the less.
Last but not least - Betsey Johnson in SoHo (NYC). I visited here with my friends during 2011, and it was also a very large and impressive store. They had a ton of different outfit ideas on display which I thought was cool! I love seeing different ways to wear Betsey clothes. Again, didn't buy anything because I was on a tight budget but I'm glad I stopped in.
Visiting other stores was very interesting for a fan like me because LA, SF, NY and Atlanta all styled their stores differently from each other and each had a unique way of interpreting the brand's over all look. It actually gave me lots of ideas and inspiration on ways to style my own wardrobe!!
And just when you thought this couldn't get more geeky... LOL
I have saved tons of tags, stickers, magazine clippings and postcards over the years that I've picked up from the brand... all stored in pink Betsey Johnson boxes! I don't "collect" much stuff, but for some reason I've always been into collecting bits and pieces from my favorite designers and artists over the years... I have a similar box of stuff for Tarina Tarantino. ;)
The above postcard is kinda wild. Can you imagine spending over $1000 at Betsey Johnson?! I wonder what the "free gift" was...!! I got this postcard a few days before Christmas so I didn't get to participate in the cool sale promos that year.
This is a magazine clipping I've had since I was a teenager - it's not only an illustration by Betsey but it's of my early teen idol, acress Drew Barrymore! I thought it was so cool and really fit Drew's style in the '90s!
Various postcards I've received from shop girls with my purchases over the years.
I hasn't really been a "secret" over the years that I was a fan of the Betsey Johnson brand, but I doubt anyone actually realized just how much it meant to me except maybe my boyfriend and mom. I'll really miss Betsey Johnson's boutiques... I've actually been quite sad for the past month about the store closings. I didn't expect to be so bummed, but it makes sense I suppose. Even though it's "just a store", the clothes there really represented something more to me through out my young adult life. It was definitely a "lifestyle brand" for me and helped shaped my over all fashion sense.
I hope her stores will eventually come back and she will start making her higher end clothes again. It was quite the experience to shop there - always great customer service, employees who remembered your name, amazing music, sometimes cupcakes and champagne, and of course the beautiful clothes. It was such a girly punk fashion paradise!
I went by the Atlanta Phipps store on my birthday this Thursday in hopes for one last visit, but its now officially closed.
Goodbye Betsey Johnson and best of luck, it's been fun!!
Can't wait to see her tv show this summer!