A lot of what one experiences during New York Fashion Week is a surprise. Some labels go to great lengths to keep their collections hidden and under wraps until time for their runway presentation. Very little carries over from one season to the next. One delightfully enduring element of NYFW, though, is Betsey Johnson. One can always count on Betsey to be funny, topical, enjoyable, irreverent, sexy, and entertaining. This season was certainly no different.
Having said that, you probably should have the children leave the room for the rest of this conversation. Large portions of Ms. Johnson’s spring/summer collection are rated R, and significant portions of the show are definitely NSFW. When you feel your environment is safe and secure for mature content, you may continue.
Prenup was the theme for this season’s collection and just in case anyone might question exactly where Betsey stands on the issue of gay marriage, she starts the show by sending two same-gender couples, male then female, down the runway. The two gentlemen were dressed in tight black jeans and muscle shirts with white tux jackets over them. On the back of the jackets, in sequins, one read “Pre,” and the other “Nup. The two women emphasized the opposite sides of their personalities, one all giddy in a traditional white dress, the other looking rather butch in white jeans and a sleeveless white tee.
In some ways, this was a much more glamorous collection than what we’ve seen in quite a while. Looks reminiscence of the Gabor sisters, or Elizabeth Taylor, back in the days when all three were young and sexy, dominated a number of the looks. There was plenty of crinoline and metallic fabrics played heavily throughout. One full-length wedding gown, down in layers of silver metallic, rather reminded me of an upside-down stack of cupcake baking papers. Another short little number came with a flurry of pink petticoats underneath. Accessories were large, baudy, and intentionally over the top because, you know, that’s just how BJ does things!
While there were a lot of interesting wedding ideas, there were a couple that I’m just waiting for some not-so-blushing bride to embrace. Two different models came down the stage wearing, in theory, wedding dresses whose tops were made of lace and skirts were made of tulle with a satin bow at the waist. Upon arriving at the end of the runway, however, the “brides” undid the bows and removed the skirts to reveal some very sexy and very adult lingerie beneath. Another rather naughty dress was composed entirely of clear plastic.
For the final look, Betsey sends down a lovely, tall drag queen in a fairly traditional looking white gown, except that it had been pulled down sufficiently to reveal his nipples and a few tattoos. Her face was painted white with bright red lips. She got to the end of the runway, blew a kiss, and then turned and tossed her bouquet over her shoulder, which was caught by a well dressed young man seated on the front row.
Now, with any other show, this would be then end. If you’ve been to a Betsey Johnson show before, though, you know it’s not. First, here come her darling little granddaughters acting as flower girls, tossing rose petals onto the runway. Next, out comes Betsey on the arm of who other than Dancing With The Stars’ Tony Dovolani. They sachet down the runway just a bit, then Betsey stops to do her trademark cartwheel and splits with her oldest granddaughter. Her daughter, interestingly enough, was very quick to grab Dovolani’s arm as they exited the runway. Feel free to start your own rumors.
Oh, we’re sooooo not done.
Models then returned to the runway dressed in only long white “wife beater” tees with different words sequined on the front. Some said “Mr.” Some said, “Ms.” Others were more fun with words such as “I do,” or “I might,” or “Ask me.” Models danced and played their way around the runway, then, after they were all gone, Betsey was picked up by her strong drag bride and carried, in the most unromatic of positions, off the runway. They paused for a big kiss before they disappeared.
I’m not even going to ask what happened back stage. We’re all much too young and innocent to know.
Every Betsey Johnson fashion show is a delight and this one was certainly no different. The pictures, however, should probably come with a warning label.
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison