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Kidsday talks with designer Betsey Johnson

We walked into the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan we were excited and curious. We went up to the 18th floor and walked into the brand new Eloise suite and it wowed us!

The Eloise Suite (based on the book character by Kay Thompson) was designed by Betsey Johnson and the suite has lots of illustrations of Eloise, and sayings that she used in her movies and books. Almost all around her room was pink, pink, pink! We thought the room was beautiful. Betsey Johnson – she’s got talent!

We liked the gigantic flat screen TV (and all the "Eloise" DVDs). We liked the pink curtains and, oh, don’t forget -- the pinkest and comfiest bed in the whole world. We were jumping on it, and that was the best part.

After taking a tour of the suite (there is a bedroom for parents and a living room, too), we interviewed Betsey. It was nice to hear her strong thoughts. After our interview, we visited the suite’s bathroom. Even on the towels they had turtles and a dog – characters in the "Eloise" stories. There was a big tub, two showers and a golden sink.

We hope we can stay in the Eloise suite very soon – it’s a kids’ dream.

Here is our interview with Betsey:

Why did you decide to design the suite for Eloise?

The Plaza asked me to do it and I said, I got to think about it … but I said yes right away. I knew right away. … It was really exciting was when they asked me to do the curtain fabric and the bed fabric.

Does Eloise ever wear your Betsey Johnson designs?

I bet Eloise, probably like my 4-year-old [granddaughter] Layla, I bet she wears some of my necklaces, jewelry designs and I bet she might carry some of my funny little shoulder bags, handbags themes. She would, well my clothes start at size 0. You guys could almost wear. I like to do princess dresses, and prom dresses are very princess sparkly.

Do you like being different from other designers?

Yes.  There’s no reason for me to be around if I’m doing what somebody else is doing. I always believe that if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.  I grew up wanting to be a Rockette. I studied dancing. I just wanted to come to New York to dance. And then I wanted to go to art school, then I won a fashion magazine contest and I got to New York and la, la, la, la.

Out of all the people you have met, who was your role model?

My role model? You won’t know who I’m going to say.  There’s a rock ‘n roll singer lady that I absolutely love and I love her energy, I love her strength, I love her voice, I love her everything. And her name is Tina Turner. I just like people who are themselves and unique and have the guts to go for it and stay true. She was an older woman who I thought, wow, if I can age like anyone, boy, if I could ever be like Tina Turner. And she’s still performing, she’s still amazing.  I think she was a big inspiration as a living person.  I liked her.  Meeting Johnny Depp was the most fun run in . . the cutest.

Have you ever modeled one of your own dresses at a show?

Oh yes, many times.  I always come out on the runway.  I always come out on the runway, and do a cartwheel, and wear a funny getup and ever since, I think Layla came down the runway with me. I bring my kids on the runway, my grandkids, when my daughter lets me.  She didn’t at the last show, but she’ll want the kids on the runway again. I always wear my own stuff.  Otherwise that would be weird.

Did you ever get tired of all the interviews, photo shoots and flashy lifestyle?

Flashy lifestyle? No, no and what flashy lifestyle?  I never get tired of this. I love my fans, I love my girls, I love my – I always thought I – the most important thing is being a nice person, a good person and what you give out you get back. That’s a great way to live, but flashy lifestyle, it’s never the glamour, flash and the  --  the business for me always has that excitement about it, but I work very hard, as everybody does who does anything.  There are lots of perks. The biggest perk is my customers who will wave to me on the street.

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