NYFW: BETSEY JOHNSON F/W 2014

I’m not sure Betsey Johnson knows the meaning of the word subtle. If she does, I’m rather sure she only uses it in conjunction with an expletive or two. Season after season I look forward to this show, as do many others, simply because we know Betsey is going to be as loud, raucous, and over-the top as humanly possible. Sure, there are plenty of people who don’t “get” her, and I saw comments in social media from more than a few people who wish she would retire and move to Florida. What her detractors fail to realize is that Betsey fills what would otherwise be a void for pieces that are fun, provocative, sexy, and more than just a little naughty. We need what Betsey Johnson sells just as surely as we need Ralph Lauren.

For fall/winter 2014, Betsey created what she calls her “hot” collection. The show began with a slight over abundance of smoke, from which stepped a bright top with a print full of pink, naked women, over bright yellow thigh-high stockings and pink and black leopard print shoes. Gaudy? Definitely, and she’s just getting started! While the general attitude was that of the 1970s disco era, there were times the models looked more like very inexpensive street walkers. Would anyone actually wear this stuff?

Yes, but not styled as it is presented on the runway. Individually, the pieces will sell quite well. Mesh dresses, which look good either over or under other ensembles, are likely to be huge sellers, as are the multicolored socks, shaggy faux fur coats, shorts jumpsuits, and platform heels (which nearly caused one model to fall on her backside). While most women never actually set out to dress like a stereotypical prostitute, separate pieces paired with more “normal” pieces of wardrobe, or in some cases perhaps limited to the bedroom, work extremely well. One just needs a little imagination.

At the end of the show, Betsey sent out two barely-dressed “firemen,” complete with fake hoses, to extinguish the “fire.” She then made her traditional trip down the catwalk, again accompanied by her two granddaughters (the youngest of which suddenly became very shy and ran for Mommy’s lap), did her cartwheel ending in the splits, which was then mimicked by her granddaughter.  Models returned to the runway wearing pink t-shirts and black “booty” shorts for the traditional end-of-show dance party.

All this from a 73-year-old grandmother. You wish your grandma were this cool.

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