It’s often said that one should not try to seek out the heroes of her youth, as it usually leads to disappointment and disillusionment. How many movies have been made about the adult who meets the idol of his youth only to find out he is a drunk and a jerk? I’m happy to report that is not always the case.
I was taught to sew at a very early age, and by the time I was in high school I was making the majority of my clothes. The early 1970s were a great time to be a kid who sewed because crafts were in. Not only that, but Butterick patterns were continuing to expand their Young Designer series of patterns. And starting in 1971 my favorites were the Betsey Johnson for Alley Cat patterns.
Betsey came to fashion prominence in the mid 1960s as a designer for Paraphernalia, but I was only ten and not exactly into fashion, so I have no memory of that famous boutique and clothing line. But by high school I was ready to join the crazy fashion parade of the early 70s. I would go to the local textile factory outlets and buy the wackiest knits I could find, all destined to be made up Betsey-style.
I had plans to be in Charlotte yesterday due to the Vintage Charlotte market that is held twice a year. When someone tweeted that Betsey Johnson was to be making an appearance at the Charlotte Belk store the same day I could not believe my luck. I made plans to attend and to see if I could get in to meet her.
Despite a long line and a long wait, my desire to meet Betsey prevailed. When she appeared, it was in a rain of rose petals.
Betsey then took a seat and began to meet her fans. Before long it was my turn. I’d had the presence of mind to bring along one of my vintage Betsey Johnson patterns for her to sign.
When I handed the pattern to her she said that she had not seen one of those in years. She showed it around to her “entourage” telling them how she designed sewing patterns in the 70s. Then she asked me if I was still sewing and we had a nice little conversation about home sewing and how much fun it was. She said she wished she could get back into it herself.
Even though there was a huge crowd of people wanting to meet Betsey, she took the time to have a real conversation with me. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who left feeling like this was a woman who genuinely cared about the people who came to see her. She was open and enthusiastic, exactly the way I’d always known she would be.