BIOGRAPHY

Betsey

Viking. Apr. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780525561415. $28. MEMOIR
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Fashion designer Betsey Johnson is many things, but reserved she is not, as readers will discover in this unabashed memoir. Johnson dishes on her childhood and college years, up-and-down career in fashion, breast cancer diagnosis, and especially her “three and a half husbands” (including her 1960s wedding to John Cale wearing only a jacket, after a City Hall judge refused to marry a woman in pants). She succeeded by ignoring trends and following instincts about what “girls” like her would want to wear, from space-age Sixties dresses to petticoats and everything Lycra. Despite a lack of formal business training, she worked incredibly hard and happened upon opportunities. Less a design retrospective than a personal history, the book is illustrated with more family snapshots than runway photos. Its tone is chatty and unapologetic rather than reflective or inspirational—from Mademoiselle magazine to Warhol and the Velvet Underground to Dancing with the Stars, Johnson shrugs, smiles, and dashes off to her next adventure, always wearing something fabulous.
VERDICT A breezy treat for fans wanting more about the woman behind the whimsical clothes. [See Prepub Alert, 9/30/2019.]

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