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Betsey Johnson Revisits the 90s With Her Two New Collections

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Photo credit: Getty Images

"It's gonna be my best, I must say. It's definitely gonna be my best." That's what Betsey Johnson promised us to expect for her Fall/Winter 2011 runway show — actually, make that two shows in one, with some master disguises, impromptu dance performances and, of course, a requisite cartwheel added in for kicks. The excitement was palpable as the packed crowd anxiously awaited the unveiling of Betsey's two collections: the higher-end, more sophisticated Black Tag and the lower-priced (all under $100) and more youthful Pink Patch.

The eclectic mix of bold-name Betsey fans in the front row included Ugly Betty's fashion-crazed Justin, Mark Indelicato, Patricia Field, celeb stylist June Ambrose, Miss Jay Alexander and Jill and Bobby Zarin. We're not sure if it was because this was a Betsey show or it was Valentine's Day, but there were countless poufy bubblegum-hued princess frocks in the audience, plus a couple towering tulle-hats (that's you, Irina Pantaeva), which thankfully we weren't sitting behind.

The show kicked off with the black-widow-goth meets bordello-chic Black Tag collection worn by vampy models in severe two-toned bobs accented with a tattoo-like lace overlay. The color palette started off with dark inky eat-you-alive blacks — leather, velvet, lace...acid wash — but the signature Betsey still came through with adornments of blood red roses. The pre-millennial classic Betsey florals and animal print took a slightly more grown up turn with ladylike floor length gowns, bold knits and faux-fur layers. The run-of-show read like a Valentine's mix tape (yes, tape since we're on a 90's kick) with looks named after amorous ballads like, "Killing Me Softly", "I Got You Babe" and, uh, "Hot for Teacher".

After Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" appropriately closed the Black Tag portion of the show, the upbeat Pink Patch collection rolled out. Betsey loves to keep it in the family, so 51 Betsey Johnson employees (sample titles: Store Manager, VP of Merchandising and Skater Girlfriend), sporting Betsey-esque blonde wigs with straight cut bangs, had the chance to channel their inner Zoolander and sashay down the catwalk. The designs did follow through on Betsey's earlier promise to bring back the classics. The skin-tight, off-the-shoulder, bell-bottom floral jumpsuit gave us some original Limelight déja vu and and we squealed in delight when we saw the 90's club-kid-reminiscent bright, grungy plaids marching down the runway. The models with day jobs were having an absolute blast (although there was one stumble, but hey, all in a day's work) and their fans were screaming in support.

As the Pink Patch show closed out, what seemed to be another employee with jet black hair danced out onto the runway. She then pulled Patricia Field up out of her seat to shake their groove thang to "The Shoop Shoop Song". As the dancer tore her wig off and stripped off her coat — lo and behold — it was Betsey! She headed over to daughter Lulu for a hug then launched right into her signature runway cartwheel.

To close out, the music segued into 90's club hit, "Short Short Man" (the cleaned up version) as gigantic-flower toting models strutted their way down the runway and into the sunset (well, backstage) wearing hot-pants, tattoo tees and giant red buttons with the final sentiment, "I f-cking love you".

Check out that cartwheel!

· Betsey Johnson Will Launch Two New Collections at Her Show on Monday [Racked]
· Unveiled: Betsey Johnson's Lower Priced Pink Patch Collection [Racked]
· All Fashion Week Coverage [Racked]
· Betsey Johnson [Official Site]