NY Fashion Week: Betsey Johnson

And now, the post you'll all been waiting for! The world's most wacky, colorful, rock 'n' roll designer, Betsey Johnson, showed her Spring 2011 collection at Lincoln Center yesterday, and I managed to snag a seat.

At 68 years old, Johnson is still as exuberant as ever. The show opened with a video of her riding a bicycle around town, her hair in its trademark choppy bangs and scarecrow pigtails, looking like Suzanne Sommers on phsychedelics. Models walked the runway as footage of urban streets played behind them, giving the illusion of the city at the backs. They looked to be having a fabulous time, blowing kisses at the camera, shaking their skirts, dancing and twirling down the runway. One model even rode a skateboard a couple feet before losing her shoe and revealing some buttcheeck as she walked away. Another held a bicycle wheel in her hands, in keeping with the show's "Ride On" theme. I later learned from Aveda stylist Jen Hughes of Minneapolis, who did hair for the show, that the collection's beauty theme was "athletic punk cyclists as roadkill." Sounds about right!

The fashion was over-the-top, bright, and loud with wild prints, fluffy underskirts, ecessive ruffles and hip-slung belts. One segment introduced a line of Navy-inspired pantsuits and matching caps. She also mixed in some sheer, lingerie-like dresses, which is looking to be very on-trend for spring. Everything felt like a costume, but that's the Betsey Johnson way, and we love her for it.

The show ended with six models in frilly dresses dancing on stage and spelling out R-I-D-E-O-N with signs on their backs. Then Betsey wheeled out on a red bicycle with training wheels, stopping to pick up a trophy from the audience, do her signature cartwheel and fall on the floor face-up. Finally, a parade of models in yellow dresses and hats with checkered flags in their hands like Nascar drivers took the stage for one last hurrah.

Here are my crappy photos from the show, followed by Style.com's fabulous photos, and my shots from the after party at Good Units.

The line to get into the theater. The entrance is a pair of double-doors below that TV mounted to the wall in the upper right corner. CLUSTER.

Chaos pre-show. You can't even see the runway because everyone's standing on it. Good thing they lay plastic down beforehand, to be removed seconds before showtime.

A blurry shot of the photography pit. Every person in this photo is wielding a massive camera. They're all crammed against a wall at the end of the runway.

Kelly Osbourne in Betsey Johnson being interviewed before the show. She's so skinny now!

Footage of the open road that ran behind the models as they walked down the runway.

Betsey running down the runway with a trophy in her hands. This is right before she did a cartwheel.

The finale!

Here are Style.com's photos:

Watch the whole show below:

While I wouldn't wear most of the pieces in her collection -- they're just not my style -- it's hard to deny how fun they are. The giftbag, on the other hand, was the best I've received all week!

Socks, perfume, "Ride me!" undies, spray wax and glittery black mascara! Whee!

The afterparty took place at Good Units in the basement of the Hudson Hotel. I met up with the lovely Jen Hughes, who got me into the party and styled hair for the show, and my new pal, Erin Smith. As we walked three flights underground, each hallway was lit in different colors with scenesters slumped against the walls, talking, texting and dancing. The end of the hallway opened up into a bar and dance-floor with a balcony overhead where the DJ played. Minutes after I arrived, Betsey jumped into the DJ booth and cackled incomprehensibly into the microphone, eventually landing on just sounds -- "Caw, caw, caw, caw!" Then she was off and I didn't see her again for the rest of the night.

Jen Hughes, Mary O'Regan, Erin Smith

Erin Smith, Jen Hughes

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