Since I could first pick up a handbag, Betsey Johnson has been my favorite fashion designer. She evokes the perfect combination of girly and rebel, two things that every woman has somewhere inside them. She is a fashion icon and legend, having started in a small NYC boutique and continuously built her empire into the household name it is today.
I was saddened when I heard about her company filing for Chapter 11, but was hopeful that her brand would rise again with the help of Steve Madden's company. I was home watching Style Network one evening, scouring for ideas for a new blog post, and a commercial came on for a new show... XOX Betsey Johnson. Finally I could get my much-needed dosage of Betsey and a look into the eccentric's glamorous life! I imagined her doing cartwheels in her penthouse apartment that was adorned with pink frill and confetti. I imagined lots of champagne, vacationing and hangouts with Lisa Loeb. However, since the show first aired I have watched religiously and realized I could not have been more wrong.
Betsey Johnson is a down-to-earth 70-year-old mother/grandmother and business woman who happens to design clothing. Her apartment is tastefully decorated with a clean, simple mix of modern and vintage decor, perfect for casual business meetings or relaxing with a glass of champagne (I was right about the champagne). Her daughter Lulu is a smart, business minded mother, with relatable marital problems and her own sense of uninfluenced style.
The show focuses around Betsey re-launching her brand via Steve Madden, as well as her personal hurdles -- her relationship with her daughter, her business woes and yes, even her love life. Lulu is Betsey's only child and seemingly her best friend. They live in the same apartment building, one that Betsey moved into to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren (who usually remain off camera, a refreshing and pleasant reality TV parenting decision). While they may be incredibly close both in location and emotionally, they still have the same "you're smothering me" moments that so many mothers and daughters seem to have, even allowing viewers a glimpse into their couples therapy sessions. Betsey went on to describe their relationship by saying "Lulu and I are joined at the hip, and the heart and the throat."
While dealing with the re-launch of her brand and coping with no longer being her own boss, Betsey also gives us a brief glimpse into her love life. She sits down to dinner with a previous love interest, one that Lulu has expressed her disapproval over. It becomes apparent that no matter what kind of life you've lived, money you've made or success you have, all women at some point find themselves torn over a man, and Betsey Johnson is no exception. Who would have thought that the girl-power seamstress herself could possibly be manipulated by a cute face also!
XOX Betsey Johnson is a nice change of pace for reality TV fans who may be sick of watching catty housewives or spoiled celebrities. You have no choice but to fall in love with Betsey, not just because of her clothing but because of who she is -- a humbled, hard-working woman, who describes herself simply as "I make clothes." She seems to live life by the motto "if you want it done right, you've got to do it yourself", delving headfirst into tasks usually delegated to interns or assistants, and enjoying every minute of the ride.
The re-launch of her e-commerce site includes her signature style at affordable prices and even some pleasant surprises (Betsey baby onesies?! Yes please!). Lulu is headed in the right direction with plans for her own handbag collection and progress in overcoming her divorce, while Betsey seems to be settling comfortably into her new business venture. Regardless of her personal life and business falling apart at the seams, she still maintains her big smile, adorned with red lipstick and instills confidence in fans and viewers that the last of the Betsey Johnson empire has certainly not been seen.
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