Pretty in Pink

| April 20, 2011
Betsey Johnson

photo by Shannon Sinclair

Talking to Betsey Part 2: In last week’s issue, we talked with the fashion diva about her personal battle with breast cancer. This week, we spoke with Ms. Johnson about all things Derby-related, including how she’s going to dress for the festivities and what’s with those cartwheels at the end of her fashion shows.

Betsey Johnson is thrilled to be heading to Louisville as the guest of Chambord – “I just love those people!” – and her fans are equally excited, particularly those who will attend The Voice-Tribune’s Brunch with Betsey Johnson presented by Chambord May 5 at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. The morning affair will include a VIP meet ‘n’ greet, Johnson’s own tale of battling breast cancer and a special moment to honor six area breast cancer survivors: Thomas Buckman, Karen Casi, Mel Fisher, Bobbie Leslie, Debbie Scoppechio and Wendy Martin.

The famed fashionista also will take part in a variety of other Derby activities. Johnson will judge the Chambord Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest on May 6 at Churchill Downs. For every gal who walks the pink carpet in the garden, Chambord will donate $10 – per person – to the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Participants will be judged on how fashionably they incorporate pink into their ensemble. Entrants showcasing their finest Oaks attire will be judged on the “pink carpet” in the Aristides Garden at Churchill Downs. The winner will receive an all-expense-paid VIP trip for two to Fashion Week in New York City. After the running of the Kentucky Oaks 137, Johnson will attend The Mint Jubilee, sponsored by Chambord, at The Palace Theatre. The gala begins at 7 p.m. and benefits The Mint Jubilee Foundation. For more information, go to

The Voice-Tribune: You sound so excited to be headed our way – I love it!

Betsey Johnson: For me it’s like, “Do I want to see the Kentucky Derby?” It’s like, “Yes! Yes!” (Laughs.) I have never been. For me, I couldn’t even imagine going because of the worry I would go through over my damn wardrobe (laughs). But I’m just collecting everything pink that I’ve made and that I love and I’m just getting heavy into the pink-Chambord-and-pink-breast-cancer-charity vibe of the whole invitation. For me, I’m going down to help them raise as much money as they can for breast cancer.

The Voice-Tribune: Have you picked out your Derby hat?

Betsey Johnson: I’m having one made that matches my dress completely. It’s made out of pink tulle. I’m working with a really terrific young hat maker. I know I want one that looks like a little crown on a doily. And I know I want one that looks … very, very funny, very pop art. And then I want something very beautiful and nice. I know they’re looking forward to me full throttle, full speed ahead with this. Not to be demure, background material. I’m wearing a variety of pink, from tutu-y type stuff to stretchy pink and black tights and tulle, floral chiffon, powder puff tulle. … One (outfit) is very punky pretty, the other is truly pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty. And one is just very rock ‘n’ roll, day-time stripes and (one is) chiffon, very beautiful. Is that enough outfits you think? (Laughs.)

The Voice-Tribune: When did you start doing cartwheels – and why?

Betsey Johnson: I was just real excited backstage and I went out on stage and threw one because I always – ever since wanting to be a dancer and being a dancer when I was little – I swore that for my whole life I was going to be able to do a cartwheel. I ripped my hamstring and can’t do my split anymore, but it’s my only exercise. I do four cartwheels a year (laughs). … It was kind of like instead of walking to the end of the runway and smiling and bowing and waving, I just threw this cartwheel. I don’t know how many years ago, but I say in a few years I’ll be wheelchaired down, I’ll get up and have like three spotters, I’ll do my cartwheel and then they’ll put me back in my wheelchair.

The Voice-Tribune: Will we see any cartwheels at the brunch?

Betsey Johnson: The cartwheeling really does kind of affect and restrict what I wear because I have to look great upside down (laughs). … I’ll never get everything done before I head to the airport, Angie, but I’m going to try. … the Kentucky Derby is like the big bang of Easter parades – on horses – for me.

Contact writer Angie Fenton at 502.551.2698 or

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Category: Cover Stories

About the Author (Author Profile)

Angie Fenton
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.

Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.

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