Saturday, July 30, 2011

...Musing Over Muses

What is a muse?

After a recent video showroom tour with Gala Darling, where I introduced myself as Betsey’s muse and assistant, Gala received a tweet from a fan that asked, "When that girl says she's Betsey's muse, what does that mean?" From this I decided that maybe there was a little de-mystifying to be done about being Betsey’s muse. Strictly speaking, I am Betsey’s design assistant and in that role I am her sometimes muse.  It’s always a bit tongue and cheek when I introduce myself as such because, fact of the matter is, no one pays me to be her muse even though Betsey has referred to me as such. And when walking down the street people don’t turn their heads and say, “Oh look there goes Betsey’s muse!” I often struggle with defining myself in this way but in essence being the muse is just a fun aspect of my job when I am in the showroom. It is sort of like an inside joke between myself and all the Betsey employees. So I am going to swing a bat at the topic…

The Nine Greek Muses

First I did a little research…

When I started writing about what being Betsey’s (sometimes) muse meant, I really had a hard time explaining it. We all know a muse to be a source for inspiration for an artist but I wanted to see what other definitions I could find. defines a muse as “a goddess presiding over a particular art,” which my immodest side loves. Wikipedia’s entry speaks of the nine original Greek muses as, “the source of the knowledge, related orally for centuries in the ancient culture that was contained in poetic lyrics and myths. The compliment to a real woman who inspires creative endeavor is a later idea.” Well said Wiki!

Talk about a lot to live up to, or did I really have to just be myself? I was not willing to accept that just by being myself I could inspire someone like Betsey Johnson. So I reached the point where I began writing down things I do for Betsey and finding things I do for her that no one else could. From my list, I came to the conclusion that it is not painting her nails from time to time, modeling, or acting as a design assistant, it is not anything I do it is why I do it. I’d do anything for her because I am her friend.

 Betsey and Me and the Betsey for Tweezerman PA

How I became Betsey’s muse…

When I met Betsey as a design intern she immediately asked me to head to tech design (where specs for clothing are finalized) and have my measurements taken. Little did I know that this was the gateway to spending my days in the showroom playing dress-up…

…Betsey was working on designing retail specials for Fall 2010 and her process involves searching through her vintage, trying it on a body, and tweaking it to make it new. Since according to tech design I was close to a size four, I became the new body.

That day I remember Betsey and I going through her archive collection and separating things into piles on the showroom floor and laughing at the fact we were going to get in trouble for the mess we were making. At the end of the whirlwind we had succeeded in designing all the retail specials and trashing the showroom.


Long Story Short…

In the following weeks I spent more time with Betsey and became her “Gal Friday.” I was not just a body at that point, she began to ask my opinion and listen to it. I watched and learned and really got to know the method to Betsey’s madness. The first Christmas time we spent at the showroom Betsey gave me the present of a job. So here I am two years later as (sometimes) muse and design assistant to one of the most creatively brilliant minds.

In all of our dress-up silliness, it never really occurred to me that this meant I was her muse. The distinction happened on an extraordinarily busy day before or Fall 2010 show when our PR manager introduced me to the production crew saying, “This is Stef, Betsey’s muse and assistant.” I remember becoming flush and thinking, ‘really?’ Slowly I felt that idea swell inside me, a little embarrassed, but proud of it as well. I felt unique.

A portrait of Marie Therese Picasso's Muse

Anyway, what the hell does a muse do?

I had some insight to this question during a recent visit to the Gagaosian Gallery to see the Picasso and Marie Therese exhibit. The subject matter of this exhibit was Marie Therese as Picasso's muse and how her image was translated into some of Picasso's most exquisite works. After seeing the juxtaposition of a photo of Marie Therese and Picasso’s cubist interpretation of her identifying features, I began to understand the bare bones of what a muse does. Muses are sort of like out lines, not models, but outlines. Picasso painted from Marie Therese.  Betsey designs on me. Picasso manipulated the paint around Marie’s image and Betsey cuts and pins to shape my body. Marie and Picasso had a child and a love affair together – Betsey and I have a friendship and an understanding. I like to think that the conversations we have while she is designing make an impact on the out come of a garment. So I am an outline for Betsey, a jumping off point, which is easier to face then a blank canvas.

Betsey is really good at not objectifying me in this role and that is why I am mainly her design assistant. After she is finished designing something on me, she trusts me with putting it into work and seeing it though to the end. I take most pride in this part of my job. You have to speak Betsey to be able to accomplish this task, which I can only imagine to an outsider would seem like alien language.

A lot of my job involves being supportive of Betsey’s vision and encouraging and challenging her creativity. Let’s face it, everyone, even Betsey Johnson, needs to be reassured that they are doing a good job. I also try to be the best sounding board for her ideas, which means that I do not agree with her all the time. Constantly being told you are doing everything right is not healthy for anyone. Between us is just the right amount of understanding where she can tell and accepts that I do not like something. Recently, Betsey brought to my attention that I curl one side of my lip if I don’t like something. She calls this the Stef lip and she takes note.

Betsey and I celebrating my 28th birthday 

In Conclusion…

Every relationship between muse and artist is intensely personal and unique. Because this is so hard to define I want to “open up the phones” so to speak and see if you have any questions. Mostly the sometimes muse part of my job is something that I make up as I go. It is like an encyclopedia sized “choose your own adventure” book because every day is different, which suits me just fine.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

...Intern Theme Day - Harajuku Girls!

Harajuku Day!!

Domo arigato Betsey for jumping in the picture with us!

Peace, Love and XOX!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

..."Fashion Drugs" - A Healty Addiction - "Gini" sais quoi

Muse of the week is Gini! 

I am really inspired by Gini's little "bow" peep chic style. Gini always looks pressed to perfection. Even if the Apocalypse happened and we were living in ashes, Gini would still blossom out of the dust into something ethereal. To illustrate this point I will share one of my favorite stories about Gini and when a group of Betsey girls went to the Mets Baseball game. 

At the end of a long day of work everyone changed into our ragged ball game clothing (jeans and a tee), everyone that is except Gini who looked much like she does in the photo below. It was quite the sight to see prim Gini drinking a beer among ball-capped-clad die-hards. That day she turned more then one Mets fan's head with her style, especially when a fly ball landed right in the middle of our little party!

Photo by Char

This week on "Fashion Drugs" Gini lets us in on how to get a little of that "Gini" sais quoi...


...My style is hard to describe. I take influences from different cultures and combine them to form my own aesthetic and I should definitely add that Japanese fashion never fails to fascinate me. It's all about the imagination, the fairy tale which gets broken up but still retains its beauty. I love layering, poofy skirty and I will never ever leave the house without some kind of hat or headpiece on my head. Everybody here at Betsey Johnson will confirm that! Hats, flowers, all kinds of bows...and most of the time everything combined. I like to have a variety of style options depending on my mood, as long as they all tell the same story - Mine to be specific!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

...The Tents @ Newfest!

Last night the Betsey clan went to see "The Tents," a documentary about the history of fashion week tents and how they helped put NYC on the fore front of fashion. Among many other fashion forces in the film, Betsey did a hysterical and informative interview. The entire movie was great and if you love fashion you will get excitement goosebumps as the first scene comes to the screen.  Congrats to Deryck Todd "The Tents" production supervisor for a wonderful film and thanks to him for reaching out to me and getting us tickets!

Check out "The Tents"

Check out Deryck Todd - he is a jack of all trades!

* all available on Betsey

So much fun!

x - Stef

Friday, July 22, 2011

...A Vintage Extravaganza in Austin, Texas!

When it comes to new fashion, I am a tough customer, but when it comes to vintage I get weak in the knees. At Betsey we live and die by our vintage; old Betsey creations, designer vintage or obscure brand vintage, it does not matter it is all extremely integral to the designing of a new collection. Sometimes we will out right copy a garment only to tweak it in prototype stage or we will use a garment's smallest detail, such as a stitch or button, to incorporate into a new garment. Every piece I choose has to have something unique that inspires a new garment. The challenge of finding those details is what makes crossing the threshold of my favorite vintage boutiques intoxicating. I know when all is said and done I will leave with unique treasures. Last Friday I woke up in Austin Texas, my home town, bursting to go on the vintage hunt! 

First Stop - Feathers - I made out like a bandit here! There are so many good things in this store that it is near impossible to make decisions from the inevitable heap you will take into the dressing room with you. 

Black and white knit halter (Feathers find) - I choose this because it reminded me of a dress that Betsey did in her Spring 2004 show Guys Heart BJ

Color blocking is so cool!

Check out this one piece khaki wonder! (Feather's find) I chose this garment because there are about 20 different things I can think of to create based on this unique find.

Next on the list of superb vintage hide-aways is Laced With Romance - My friend Kayln took me here for the first time and my jaw hit the floor. From the road, the shop has black windows and looks like a front for a secret under ground club but when you enter you are thrust into a steam punk meets rock and roll taxidermy heaven.

Steam punked! (Laced with Romance Find)

In the picture above and the picture below I am wearing Betsey vintage! Because of Betsey's 40 wonderful years of dressing all the wild children of the world, without fail I find something Betsey at every vintage store.

A Betsey Pin-up Beauties Pop-over (Feather's find)

Another goodie shop is New Bohemia if you want a cotton sundress this is your spot and for the guys, pearl snap shirts are never in short supply. Plus, they probably have the best vintage experts; that's right, I am talking about you, Mallory and Llana!

These two pieces are probably the most amazing vintage finds I have had in a long time, Chiffon pants (Laced with Romance)  and a fitted jacket with amazing cut out sleeves (Feathers). I feel like Lady Gaga in this outfit!

And last but not least, based in Austin but only available on-line, is Sisters of The Black Moon - You could base your entire life style on their carnival fortune teller meets Indian princess vibe. 

One of Betsey's favorite pieces from the bundle I brought back are these acid green maintenance - suspender pants. (Feathers) I briefly showed them to her the day I got back and the next day she came into work and asked me to put the suspenders on because she had been thinking about them. If Betsey Johnson is thinking about them for a whole day, you know they have to be a good find!

Of honorable mention are several other amazing vintage locations that I didn't quite have time or money for...

Amelia's - Oh so retro!

Flashback - buy a brassier here

Cream Vintage - yummy!

All of Austin's vintage getaways can be found on the Vintage Around Town Guide

Till the next adventure!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

...Intern Theme Day - Gaga Inspired!

Lady Gaga Day! I will let the picture speak for its self!

We are definitely on the "Edge of Glory"


Saturday, July 16, 2011

...Break Time in Austin, Texas!

Hi Faithful Followers!

I am in my home town of Austin, Texas taking some much needed R&R before we begin the count down to fashion week! I have been busy letting my family and friends make sure I get my fill of home. Which means, as soon as I get back to the Big Apple that there will be plenty to read!
Me at Curras getting some Tex-Mex after a lovely day of swimming in Barton Springs!

Coming up next week...

- All new ..."Fashion Drugs!" with a new guest muse.
- Every one's favorite ...Intern Theme Day.
- A look at my vintage buying extravaganza and some insight to why designers love vintage!


- ...Musing Over Muses - What does it mean to be a muse?

Until Next Time...


...In The Wild!

For this theme day, the interns and I channeled our inner animal spirit...

...Things got a little wild...

...then we had a good laugh at ourselves and went back to work!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

..."Fashion Drugs - A Healthy Addiction" - Your Rock and Roll Lifestyle Edition

Muse of the week is Char! She is pretty awesome and if you ever meet her, you might find yourself wanting to be her. She works at Betsey Johnson (duh). Her role at BJ includes designing some pretty sick T-shirts and making Charbucks (That's code for really really strong coffee) when we have to work late.

I saw this picture on her facebook and decided to dedicate this edition of Fashion Drugs to her and asked her to throw me a few brain nuggets on her unique style!


This is Char - She could peer pressure you into anything

“Less might be more but more is way more fun”. <3   - Char

Well first of all as a precautionary warning, my style is super all over the place but I think that’s what makes it “my style”. I like to mix different vibes,… tons of different things I like, into one outfit and be kind of a mish-mosh. That’s my personality, anyway…. I like to think I can’t be contained in any kind of labeled box. One day I might look like a mix of rock n’ roll with a splash of girly and a weekend at Woodstock, and other days I’m more along the lines of “Compton took a field trip to 7th Avenue!” But isn’t that what makes getting dressed everyday fun!? If clothes were intended to only cover our bodies, we’d all be out of business (in the fashion industry) and completely bored and uninspired!

Here’s some pieces I would definitely throw into the mix with those AMAZING Jeffrey Campbell Tick peeptoe wedges.

I have spent many years working on t-shirts (product development and design) and I seriously LOVVVVVVVVVVVVVE tees. They are timeless! EVERYONE wears t-shirts….. your boyfriend, your Mom, your neighbor, your 3 year old cousin. They aren’t going anywhere! And they’re only getting cooler and cooler with advancement in manufacturing and technology! I love this shredded tee by Chaser. I wear a lot of solids but like to mix it up with some “conversation pieces”. I LOVE stripes (my favorite things EVER are stripes, Rasta colors and leopard print). The Jeffrey Campbell Tick wedges would make this outfit total money. It’s super mixed up with all the elements but totally comes together in a funky way.

I love this sheer top by Alternative Apparel. It’s super sexy but understated. I’d pair the Tick wedges with these Cheap Monday skinny acid jeans and TONS of bangles. I like throwing in just a little colorpop and I love accessorizing. The Tick wedges would bring this outfit to a really sleek level while the sheerness of the tee is really sexy and the denim is really funky. The bangles bring that rocker feel and the turquoise is total earthy/hippy. I love the conflict!

I LOVE the graphic tees that KR3W makes and I’m stoked that they started doing them for the ladies (even though their target customer is the dudes). I would probably cut this tee shirt up to be a tank with oversized armholes and throw some safety pins in the back to tighten it up. I love these floral denim pants by Insight and love the contrast between the girly pants and the creepy/edgy feel of the tee. I’d wrap this look up with this briefcase style handbag by The Extras and probably deck out in tons of gold and silver chain necklaces. I completely challenge anyone who thinks you have to make a choice between gold and silver hardware in your outfit. If you have the right attitude you can mix up ANYTHING and pull it off!

Thanks to Char for letting me pick her lovely brain!

...Here are a few of my own Rock n' Roll picks a la Char-ness!

Alexander McQueen Scarf - R.I.P you amazing man. Thank you for everything you did ever!


Chanel Chain Glasses - For your hang over. If this doesn't satisfy check out more rock n' roll worthy sunglasses here

Mata Hari x Lovemade Backpack - you must start a little black book if you own this

Ether Ore Jewelry - Delicately dangerous!

Betsey Johnson Boom Box Biggie Top - Banging! Char designed this top with Betsey!

As always send me anything you can't live with out!


Monday, July 11, 2011

...Twister In McCarren Park!

I have discovered the best way to get happy in an instant and exercise at the same time!


In action on the Twister board in my Betsey Johnson Ditsy Printed sun dress!

Right hand red!

Left hand yellow!

Right foot blue!

Left foot green!

I ended up the Twister Champion! Anyone want to challenge me?


Friday, July 8, 2011

...More Media From Bullett Magazine!

Refinery 29 posted the video from Betsey's Bullett Magazine shoot enjoy and read more in the Bullett's III vol. The Golden Issue and Stef Does...The Bullett Magazine Shoot .

I love the video, I Love Bullett!


...Dress Up with Betsey!

I have been sort of M.I.A from the Blog-o-sphere lately but the explanation is simple!

Betsey and I were too busy playing dress-up!

Although the day is filled with laughs and many wardrobe changes...with two lines, fashion week approaching and many other interesting projects in the queue, work has been keeping us busy. I had one of the interns take some pictures of a particularly hilarious end-of-day design session. 


Believe it or not this is a typical day for me in the show room.  I am a fashion pirate armed with my trusty tape measure!

Betsey is hard at work...I might be goofing off just a smidge;)

Here we are doing "serious design thinking" (retract champaigne bottle)

I think we were tap dancing in this picture!


Monday, July 4, 2011

...Fashion Drugs - A Healthy Addiction - Beach Bum Edition

A healthy addiction to all things fashion, prescribed every Monday!

Happy Fourth of  July!

Welcome to the first edition of Fashion Drugs!

I had everyone in the Betsey Johnson showroom send me a link to some of their favorite beach bum fashions. This is what we liked for putting your toes in the sand.


Black Milk Clothing - So cool you can't even buy this any more but you will find yourself craving it.

Vivienne Westwood Corset - If any "trip" you had resulted in a desire to be a mermaid

Alice and Olivia Resort 2012 Collection - bold, bright and breath of simplicity, it keeps you wanting more

Food Jewelry - Shay Arron Miniatures - This hot dog pendant is not as drastic as Lady Gaga's meat dress but it will attract attention

Hermes Orange Towel - My boyfriend actually owns this towel which is strictly reserved for beach use only! Although, sometimes I sneak a quick hit of its luxuriousness and use it to wrap myself in after a hot shower. Ahhh, the thrill of Hermes!

J. Crew Tote - acid colored totes! What's not to love?

Jeffery Campbell American Flag Boots - This is not an illusion these really exist! 

La Roche - Posay Sunscreen = Prevention -  I literally typed "the best sunscreen in the world" in to my search portal and this came up...I am going to try it and let you know;)

Hope you enjoyed the first edition of Fashion Drugs! Stay tuned next Monday for another fix! In the mean time, if you find your self obsessing over anything, send me a link!