The 19th season of ABC’s hit Dancing with the Stars premiered this week. The show featured its usual group of young Disney-type stars and familiar faces from the 90’s. The refreshing change of pace? Joining the cast is the first ever fashion designer to grace the DWTS stage, the fabulously upbeat and eclectic fashion designer Betsey Johnson.
At 72, Johnson is the second oldest contestant on the show, following Cheech and Chong star Tommy Chong. But the designer’s smiley and youthful persona and style, mixed with her famous flexibility, make her forever young.
Here are ten fun facts about dancer Tony Dovolani’s Fall 2014 dance partner.
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014)
1) Betsey was born in Connecticut, more known for clean-cut and preppy styles than her fun, fearless, embellished/glitzy looks. Way to break out of the mold, Bets!
2) She was inspired to become a designer by her years spent dancing throughout her childhood. Betsey’s aspirations to be a dancer and her love for costumes laid the foundation for her creative inspirations, still evident in her designs today. She told The Milwaukee Journal in 1981, “I was the only dance teacher in Terryville, Conn. I was always teaching dancing in my back yard and sewing costumes. I always wanted to be a dancer, like Mitzi Gaynor. What I tried to do was a combination of dance and art, until I realized that it had to be one or the other.”
3) Betsey entered the New York fashion scene in 1964 by winning Mademoiselle magazine’s “Guest Editor Contest.” One year later, she became the top designer for Paraphernalia, a clothing boutique that at the time housed the hottest young London designers.
4) Her formula/recipe for fashion success? ”It’s no big thing,” she told the New York Times in 1999. ”Take a leotard and add a skirt.” Voila!
5) The young-spirited lady is famous for doing a cartwheel at the end of her fashion shows. She told the NY Times, ”I do only two cartwheels a year” — at the finale of her spring and fall runway shows. But Ms. Johnson has been known to do cartwheels at other appearances, so it was no surprise when she finished her first DWTS routine with her famous cartwheel-to-a-perfect-split move.
6) Betsey was a cheerleader for nine years and was the head cheerleader for Syracuse University. She also graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the school. Her fall 2012 collection had a Broadway production theme and the finale’s inspiration came from her pom-pom days. She also told New York Magazine her “claim to fame” is the frequency of her designs at high-school proms.
7) She spends a fortune maintaining her signature platinum blonde hair. In 2013, Betsey joked that it cost $5,000 a pop to “look this cheap and trashy,” adding that she spends $20,000 annually at the hairstylists.
8) Betsey admitted to the New York Times that she got breast implants when she was 48 and a face lift at 50. ”I used to design for my body, which was flat-chested with big hips,” she said. “That’s why my clothes were tight on top with full skirts.”
9) Johnson, who is left-handed, never cooks, as reported by Good Morning America in their DWTS bio. Reportedly, she keeps her makeup in the oven, stores her pots and pans in the dishwasher, and lives in the same New York City apartment building as her daughter and granddaughters.
10) The Betsey Johnson website states that her trademark look is “sexy silhouettes, hippie inspired flowing fabrics, whimsical detailing and most importantly, a fabulous fit.” What could be better?!
Image via Getty