Retro Rules at Betsey Johnson, Though, Thank God, No Poufs

“I’m a very lucky man, I get to sit with Tyra quite regularly,” British photographer and America’s Next Top Model judge Nigel Barker told the Transom, referring to divalicious ANTM hostess Tyra Banks, after Betsey Johnson celebrated 30 years in fashion at Bryant Park on Monday. “That’s another thing that puts a smile on my face.”

The first thing to put a smile on Mr. Barker’s face was Ms. Johnson’s beat-chick-inspired presentation, followed by a retrospective of her years in the industry.

The new collection included all the classic Betsey elements: animal prints, leather hot pants and floral chiffon dresses. Also: punky cut-off gloves, sweater dresses, and thigh highs that looked like 1970s athletic socks. No prom-dress poufs, however—phew!

“I actually thought it was really retro and at the end I recognized all those shapes because I used to own a lot of Betsey Johnson when I was younger,” yammered fashion commentator Lauren Ezersky. “I think she deserves all the accolades because it’s really hard to be creative and sale-able at the same time. Thirty years in this business is like a bazillion years in any other business.”

Sing it, sister … Still, some of the retro pieces were rather cringe-inducing. For instance, remember zippers? Now we like to hide them!

“All that vintage stuff reminded me of her,” said music mogul Russell Simmons, soaking up post-show press attention with his nieces, Angel and Vanessa, as Ms. Banks skedaddled backstage, where stylist Rebecca Weinberg’s 2-year-old daughter was licking a microphone. “I mean, it sums up Betsey Johnson.”

Additional reporting by Kaitlin Bell

Retro Rules at Betsey Johnson, Though, Thank God, No Poufs