Comeback Queen: After Bankruptcy, Betsey Johnson Plans 2013 Return

With a new clothing line, reality show and fragrance on the way, Betsey Johnson cartwheels into the New Year

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At 70 years old, most people are thrilled to settle into a quiet retirement. But fashion designer Betsy Johnson isn’t like most people.

For the past 35 years, Johnson has ruled a certain glittery corner of the fashion industry with her colorful, trendy frocks that are worn everywhere from high school proms to red carpet events. Her formula of keeping fashion fun and flirty — and not at all stuffy — made her a longtime success, but as Johnson found out in 2012, it couldn’t necessarily guarantee profits. In April, after falling into millions of dollars in debt — something she blames on brands “knocking-off” her unique style of $400+ dresses — the quirky designer filed for bankruptcy, forcing the closure all 63 stores and letting 350 employees go.

But while some people in the fashion industry were mourning the downfall of the Betsey Johnson empire, Johnson was doing something else entirely — she was planning her comeback. Despite the bankruptcy filing, the designer moved forward with her planned runway show at New York Fashion Week in September, proving to naysayers that the ever-blonde Betsey would not be retiring her trademark cartwheels anytime soon.

(MORE: Five Questions with Betsey Johnson)

In fact, 2013 may end up being a standout year for Betsey Johnson and her eponymous brand. According to a recent profile in the New York Times, Johnson will be releasing a new line of lower-priced clothing and accessories (think the same girly dresses as before, but priced from $99 to $249) in department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom under her parent company, Steve Madden, in February.

Johnson and her 37-year-old daughter Lulu — who is currently cultivating her own fashion empire with her brand, Lulu Johnson — will also be starring in their own reality show on the Style Network, The Betsey and Lulu Show, starting in March. Lastly, the designer’s latest fragrance, Betseyfied, is set for release this summer — rounding out the trifecta of Betsey sass that will be coming our way in the New Year.

There’s only one thing we don’t expect to see from the free-spirited designer in coming years — and that’s retirement.


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