The Betsey Johnson Experience, Or, How A Girl From New Zealand Ended Up Walking In A Show At New York Fashion Week!

Betsey Johnson

Yesterday was definitely one of the highlights of my life;I walked in the show of my all-time favourite designer, Betsey Johnson, at Lincoln Center, during New York Fashion Week! But I’m getting ahead of myself. We have to start at the beginning, way back in January…

One fine morning, I received an email which made me hyperventilate a little bit.

Hi Gala,

Hope all is well!

As you know, we are all fans of your blog here at Betsey, and our Soho girls love you!

I have a question for you regarding Betsey’s upcoming show at NY Fashion Week, taking place at Lincoln Center on Feb. 14th at 6pm.

Would you be free to chat tomorrow at some point?

Let me know if there is a time that works for you!

Of course, when Betsey’s right-hand woman calls, you answer! We had a phonecall the next day, & Katelyn–PR genius–told me the details.

“Basically,” she said, “The show will be in two parts, with our new collection first, followed by the finale which will showcase a new, lower priced collection we’re releasing soon, called Pink Patch. We have 50 girls walking in the finale, mostly store managers & some of the production team, & everyone will be wearing wigs like Betsey’s hair! Well, Betsey loves you & would like you to walk! Are you interested?”

I don’t think I even need to tell you what my answer was!

When I came back from Las Vegas, I went to the Betsey Johnson showroom for a fitting, my heart pounding the whole time. It is the pinkest place you’ve ever seen, with immense flowers painted on the wall, huge murals & of course, racks & racks of incredible clothes. The whole place was humming with activity, with oodles of rad girls racing from place to place.

I was shown my outfit–a yellow tank dress covered in a tattoo print by Mark Mahoney with a matching jacket & matching heels. I tried them on, put on my prototype wig & started prancing around the showroom. It was about that time that Betsey ran into the office & started fussing with my outfit.

“GALA! Gaaaaaa-la. Gala! You look great! I love this! Do we have a belt? She needs a belt… No, put it lower, it should be across her hips like mine is. Low & slouchy. Yes! Oh! This is so wonderful! I’m so excited. Now, Gala, I want you to walk first. Yes! She is going to walk first. Now here’s what we’re going to do. You walk out, & when you get to the end, you strike a pose–BOOM!–then come back! It’s going to be fantastic! & so funny, with all of you in the wigs!”

Betsey Johnson & Gala Darling
My fairy godmother!

Needless to say, I was swooning on the inside! We hung out for a little while after that, firstly Betsey dragged me into the meeting of all the retail managers & said, “Hello everyone!!! This is Gala Darling! She runs the most amazing blog! My favourite! Blogging empress! & this is what she’s wearing in the show!” I am sure I was BRIGHT RED but I was also loving every second of it! After that, her hairdresser arrived to re-do her extensions, & we talked about the trials & tribulations of fake hair!

It was so, so, so inspiring to be able to interact with Betsey & also to see behind-the-scenes of her empire. I love the way she has structured her business, with Betsey at the helm & a team of fantastic women to support her. It made my own dreams seem much more realistic & attainable. I left her showroom feeling so energetic & excited about life!

A few days before the show, Betsey officially announced the launch of Pink Patch. On Facebook, she said,

Hey guys,

I’m excited to announce that this fall I’m expanding my collection to offer my designs to everyone at a popular price point. We’re calling it Betsey Johnson Pink Patch and it will be on the runway at my fashion show this Monday, Feb 14th! Now we’ll be offering styles for under $100!!! Dresses, mini skirts, leggings, jackets, pants, tutus, oversized tanks, cropped tees, sweaters, and evening dresses!

I’m so excited about this Pink Patch label – it’s got all the best of me! Pink Patch will be done in fabrics like cotton lycra, velvet, denim, chiffon, charmeuse, slinky jersey and tulle. These styles will be in my favorite patterns …roses, paper dolls, skulls, python print, leopard, plaids, stripes, tattoo prints, and my favorite drawings all fun and bold colors!

Stay tuned! We’ll be showing you a mini preview of Pink Patch in a bit!

Can’t wait to share these with you Monday night! Be sure to watch our show live at www.betseyjohnson.com/livestream and be one of the first to see Pink Patch! It’ll be modeled by some of my favorite employees & friends, real girls, who all picked their favorite pieces to wear! There’s something for everyone, for all shapes, for all personalities, for all of my girlfriends (and my daring boyfriends too!).

As a mammoth Betsey fan, I am so stoked about this! Betsey is too. Everyone wants their products to be affordable, & Pink Patch is such a great way to invite new girls into the Betseyverse! I’m so proud to be part of launching it to the public, too!

Betsey Johnson

On Monday the 14th of February, I woke up at 5.30am, utterly unable to sleep another moment. I meditated, showered, & got dressed. After attending the STUDY NY presentation at The Standard (where I spotted Mollie Sue from ANTM!), I took a car to the Lincoln Center. I was ushered backstage & the make-up frenzy began!

The direction was “look like Betsey”–so we did big black & brown smudgy eye make-up, bright red lips & matte powdered faces. Then we shimmied into our outfits, put on our hairnets & waited for our wigs. We weren’t allowed to wear them until it was time for the real thing, so we could keep it a surprise. Backstage was crawling with media & all sorts of people, so Betsey wanted to keep them in the dark until the very last moment!

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson

We went out for a practice run–Betsey walked first, then me, then Jennifer & on & on! I had to carry my shoes for the first one because they were a size 10, I am a size 8, & I hadn’t had time to stuff them yet! After the practice, I went back to the dressing area & started to stuff the shoes like my life depended on it.

Even with two pairs of insoles & a huge fistful of tissue paper in the toes, they still wouldn’t stay on, & my greatest fear was that they might come off (or that I might go head-over-heels) on the runway. So I spoke to Sasha about it & she switched my (super-rad tattoo print) shoes for a simple pair of black glittery pollys (in my actual size!).

I was sad I didn’t get to wear the tattoo print pumps, but hey, sometimes a broken ankle is just not worth it!

Betsey Johnson
The ill-fated shoes…

Betsey Johnson
Dark eye make-up like this always startles me!

Soon after that, I put on my wig & was pulled out into the main backstage area to interview with Andrew Bevan of Teen Vogue fame. He was hosting the livestream & doing a rad job. I had never met him before but he’s such a champ! Our interview had to be quick unfortunately, because the show was already running a little late, but in it, he told me how much he loved my Valentine’s Day post–& actually pulled a print-out of the article from his pocket! What a cutie!

Almost immediately following the interview, the show started. The real models were lined up & out they went. The Pink Patch girls were lined up too, & before we knew it, we were rushed to the staging area. Betsey was standing just behind the front of the stage, looking at us & grinning, & suddenly the woman calling numbers tapped me on the shoulder. Time to go out there!

Betsey Johnson
Here’s my hand-written number. You have to hold them while you’re lining up, so that the right order can be seen at a glance. Then when you’re ready to walk onstage, you drop it on the ground before you go out.

How can I describe this experience? The music is thumping & you walk from a dark room into one which is blindingly bright, & packed to the gills with people. Not people set way back from you either, they’re RIGHT THERE. If you didn’t walk in a straight line, you’d trip over their feet. You see the photographers at the end of the runway, & you’re walking, you’re walking. You’re thinking, Head up, posture straight, take long strides. Then you reach the mark at the end of the runway, you hit your pose–I turned to the side & put my hand on my hip–then turn, & walk back.

By the time you’re 3/4 of the way back, the endorphins are waking up & starting to go mad. There’s a guy crouching by the exit & as you approach him, he puts his hand up for a high five. You smack it as you walk off & he yells, “YEAH!!!!!!!!!!”

Betsey Johnson

Then you run back to the dressing area with 50 other girls & as they trickle in, the emotions are raging! Some girls are jumping & screaming, some are trembling, everyone is elated but slightly terrified about what has just happened! Some kind man pops a bottle of champagne & we pass it around & swig from it, like classy girls do. Everyone is yelling & freaking out. It was an amazing end to an incredible experience.

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson

I was so relieved that I didn’t have an “Oh my god, she’s fashion roadkill!” moment! I found out later that Miss Jay was in the front row–I can only imagine what she thought of my walk! I had never seen what I looked like walking until I came home & saw the livestream afterwards, oh lord! Practice is needed! That shit is harder than it looks!

Betsey Johnson
The programme!

Betsey Johnson
I loved these boots on another model!

Betsey Johnson
My idea of heaven.

I will never forget the 14th of February 2011! It was so surreal & wonderful, not to mention the perfect Valentine’s Day gift! I was so absolutely flabbergasted & deeply flattered to have been asked to take part, & beyond delighted to be involved in any way!

I hope you all got to tune in, but if not, the show is going to be archived on BetseyJohnson.com for a while! If you WERE watching, thank you a trillion times for your support! I felt your lovin’ vibes!

Finally, & most importantly, thank you SO MUCH to Betsey, Katelyn, & everyone at Team Betsey HQ! You rock my world, & you made this girl SO VERY HAPPY!

P.S. Hey! Don’t forget to play Sartorial Pursuit! There are still lots of fabulous prizes up for grabs!

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