Betsey: A Memoir (Hardcover)
On our shelves now
A memoir by the internationally famous fashion designer and style icon
Mention the name "Betsey Johnson" and almost every woman from the age of 15 to 75 can rapturously recall a favorite dress or outfit; whether worn for a prom, a wedding, or just to stand out from the crowd in a colorful way. They may also know her as a renegade single mom who palled around with Edie Sedgwick, Twiggy, and The Velvet Underground, or even as a celebrity contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Betsey is also famous for her iconic pink stores (she had 65 shops across the US) and for her habit of doing cartwheels and splits down the runway at the close of her fashion shows. Throughout her decades-long career, she's taken pride in producing fun but rule-breaking clothing at an accessible price point. What they might not know is that she built an empire from scratch, and brought stretch clothing to the masses in the 80s and 90s.
Betsey will take the reader behind the tutu and delve deeply into what it took to go from a white picket fence childhood in Connecticut to becoming an internationally known force in a tough, competitive business. The book will feature Betsey's candid memories of the fashion and downtown scene in the 60s and how she started her own business from the ground up after designing successfully for multiple other companies. She will discuss that business's ups and downs and reinventions (including bankruptcy), and her thoughts on body image, love, divorce, men, motherhood, and her bout with breast cancer. Betsey will be richly illustrated with many of her landmark clothes, fashion sketches, and personal photos--making the book the perfect memento and gift for every girl (of any age) for whom Betsey is, as a recent New York Times profile noted, "a role model still."
About the Author
Betsey Johnson has been rocking the fashion industry with her unique and original designs since the 1960s. Known for her celebration of the exuberant, the embellished, and the over-the-top, her commitment to remain true to her one-of-a-kind vision has kept her at the forefront of fashion for over forty years. She is the recipient of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Timeless Talent Award (created just for her by the CFDA) and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Fashion and was honored with a plaque on the Fashion Walk of Fame.
Mark Vitulano is a freelance writer living in New York City. He worked for Betsey Johnson thirty years ago answering the telephones at her NYC showroom. He kept his ears and eyes open. The two have been friends ever since.
"Betsey chronicles Johnson’s heyday in a peppy, dishy voice laced with bravado."
—The New Yorker
"For many women, it’s hard to remember a time before Betsey Johnson. . . . Nearly every It Girl—real and aspiring—has a Betsey Johnson story, either about wearing one of her dresses (trouble typically would ensue) or desperately wanting one. . . . Johnson is sharing her own story for the first time in a memoir due out next spring. . . . The stories revealed . . . will surprise and delight."
“The queen of out-there style bares all in this memoir, recalling everything from her experience as a single mother to the runway acrobatics at her legendary fashion shows.”
—Vogue ("41 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2020")
—The Daily Mail (London)
"Radiates whimsy and fun. . . . Johnson is a magnificent example of what can happen when your passion is fueled with hard work."
—New York Daily News
"Her memoir will make you smile just as much as her designs do."
"In this celebration of female entrepreneurship, Johnson writes about creating one’s own opportunities and blazing forward despite the odds . . . Filled with nostalgic photos, this upbeat memoir captures the spirit and irreverence of Johnson’s colorful personality and clothing."
“This candid book by a pioneering female entrepreneur and American original, illustrated with photos and quirky doodles, also offers details about motherhood, marriages to drug addicts and control freaks, and the obstacles one faces when battling breast cancer. Entertaining reading for fashionistas and Johnson fans alike.”
"Iconic fashion designer Johnson recalls a tumultuous life in this gossipy, spirited, and amply illustrated memoir. . . . In addition to providing provocative insight into the ups and downs of life in the fashion industry, Johnson cheerfully details a complicated private life. . . . Anyone fascinated by New York in the sixties and seventies or by fashion in general will relish this one."
"Unabashed. . . . Chatty and unapologetic rather than reflective or inspirational . . . Johnson shrugs, smiles, and dashes off to her next adventure, always wearing something fabulous. . . . A breezy treat for fans wanting more about the woman behind the whimsical clothes."
"Flamboyant, relatable, and totally unpretentious, Betsey Johnson is my kind of gal. This inspiring book is literally a manual for how to succeed in fashion and in life, all the while remaining completely and utterly true to yourself."
—Simon Doonan, author and judge on NBC's Making It