NBC Summer Press Day: Betsey Johnson talks fashion, fun and ‘AbFab’

04.22.13 5 years ago


At the NBC Summer Press Day, Betsey Johnson and Lulu Johnson were on hand to discuss their new Style network show, “XOX Betsey Johnson.” Fashionistas quickly recognized the Mutt-and-Jeff mother-daughter pair, who, while both blonde, couldn’t be more different. That disparity is, in part, what drives the show, which follows the pair as Lulu launches her own brand separate from her mother’s — but with her mom on board as an investor. 


The mother-daughter relationship, though close, has long had road bumps. “I used to walk on the opposite side of the street from her,” Lulu said. “As a little girl, as a teenager or even younger than that you just want to fit in with the rest of your girlfriends, and my mom would pick me up from school with purple hair and leopard spots… She was always the hostess with the mostest, so my friends always wanted to come to my birthday parties because of her.”

She continued, “It was hard at times, because she does really steal the show, and I just quote unquote wanted a normal situation. I’ve always admired her more than anything. I’m so grateful to have had someone so unique in my life, and soak up how people are so in amazement and in awe of her. But it’s been a trip.”  

Though Lulu seemed far more sedate than her wacky mom, she was quick to point out that they’re not as different as they may seem. “I can’t wait for my mom to step out of the room so I can be myself. When you’re standing next to this one, how can you not come off more subdued? My friends know I’m not as conservative or subdued as everyone thinks I am. ” 

No one would mistake the 70-year-old Betsey for being a shrinking violet. When asked to advise women who may feel her fashions are too wild to pull off, she said, “Girls just want to have fun. Just enjoy getting dressed. I dress to entertain myself. Just give it a go. Life’s too short, and dressing should be like cooking and decorating. It should be fun. That’s my motto, fun!”
Even though she showed her wacky side (she’s known for doing cartwheels at the end of her runway shows), she could quickly answer business questions. About the future direction of her brand, she said, “I like good prices, good design. I hope to expand the licensing category. I just added workout wear and gear. So I’d like to expand the licensees, I’d like to have an 8 day vacation every single month. I’m creative director, there are so many categories i want to do like men’s and home and all that junk. I’d like her to move in. I’d like more off time.”
For her daughter, she wishes success but more importantly, “a great, wonderful, beautiful, happy life for herself, because she deserves that.” 
When asked if they thought they might resemble the mother-daughter relationship between Saffron and Edina, Lulu agreed. “I’m told I slightly resemble the daughter and she slightly resembles the mother.”

“That was the best, best, fashiony show,” Betsey sighed, though she then said she thought Lulu would be “the tall blonde one,” Edina’s best friend Patsy.

The recently divorced Lulu summed up the experience of shooting a reality TV show as a positive one. “What I’ve discovered throughout this show by getting out from beneath my mother’s shadow is, I’m good and this is probably what I should stick to doing. Having a marriage and a family can be really hard to keep going, so that was the drive for me in life, not so much becoming a rich and famous fashion designer. So I hope I can get the best of both worlds.”

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