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Designer Betsey Johnson walks on the wild side for Fall 2011 at NY Fashion Week

posted 14 Feb 2011, 19:11 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 14 Feb 2011, 19:13 ]

American designer Betsey Johnson shows bold animal prints for Fall 2011 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 14, 2011) REUTERS - American designer Betsey Johnson took a walk on the wild side for Fall 2011 on Monday (February 14) at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. No one felt the need to call the fashion police.

Johnson is known for whimsical styles fit for a club kid's night on the town. But she outdid herself this time with leopard prints in black spots atop colors so loud that they almost roared off the runway: bright red, royal purple, neon turquoise, acid yellow, and her signature hot pink. The feline look adorned leotard tops, tights and flirty little dresses.

Her Fall 2011 collection included a mix of Betsey Johnson staples: big plaids, black leather corsets, skull-and-bone motifs and floppy roses.

Johnson said she decided to expand her business with a more affordable line called "pink patch" that she sent down the runway in her Fall 2011 show.

"I've wanted to do it. I've missed ... I just wasn't picked up by the (stores) Target and the Kohl's, and you know I really wanted to do that better, everybody price point, and we just decided to make it an extension of the collection. And one would be younger, but just taking the collection where it rightfully should go. Clothes at the fair price of what they should be."

For the first time, Johnson used non-models -- women and men -- on her runway. Fifty people, selected from among her employees, danced down her catwalk in tutu skirts, leggings, tank tops and tight sheath dresses. The styles appeared to flatter most of them. There wasn't a waif-like model type in the bunch.

"I've never had 70 models on the runway before, seeing 70 of my clothes all together. But what's great about the new collection is there was no consideration of age, size, shape, height," Johnson said.

The designer, who started her fashion line in 1978, had a close call last year when her business experienced in financial trouble. Her friend and fellow designer Steve Madden took over her debt and bought her company, promising to leave Johnson in creative control.

"It's turning for us, definitely," Johnson said. "And boy is it going to turn around when the moderate price collection comes out. Because it's realistic to today's life. I think we all realize it's a slow turn and it can be over in a second like I almost experienced, but now we're solid and we're just doing it. I'm tired of being copied. I want to copy myself and get it out there at a good price instead of... I mean I love being copied, it's a great compliment but it's time for, for me to do the full-tilt range of it now."

Her Valentine's Day show wrapped up with the models wearing red-and-white heart-shaped hats saying "I F*CKING LOVE YOU" for their finale walk. The designer took her bow and turned her traditional cartwheel on the runway to the crowd's delight.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will continue showing designers' Fall 2011 collections at Lincoln Center through February 17 in New York City.

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