Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson was close to pretending she was retiring when she filed for bankruptcy.

The designer used the Chapter 11 US Bankruptcy to file her case last year after 'exhausting resources and possibilities' and although Johnson was lucky enough to have her close friend, fellow designer Steve Madden, pay-off her debt, the 70-year-old blonde considered desperate measures to save herself from embarrassment.

She recalled: "The headline, 'Bankrupt' is hard to hide. In the beginning, I did put myself through, 'Pretend you're retiring; pretend you want to do something else,' and then I realised whatever happens, I'm going to somehow keep working with my brand.

"What my partner and I lost was our retail operation, which was always incredibly, wonderfully fun, but incredibly hard. I had my brand and I had my name that I built - so that was never threatened.

"It was more, I had a choice: do I want to keep on working? And I work now. I'm creative director through the Steve Madden corporation, who bought the debt ... I don't even know how to explain it all."

Betsey - whose story has been captured in her new reality show 'XOX, Betty Johnson, which airs on Sunday (12.05.13) - is thrilled to have the company back on track and has plenty of colourful pieces in the pipeline.

She added to "We really built a look - a pink puffy prom dress, and a punk rock and roll-y thing and made some funny, sexy shoes - we really did something. When we were in the middle of it, it was more like we were just working so hard that we didn't ever step back and go, 'Wow, that was really something.'

"But [Steve Madden] saw what we were doing ... It's just going better than ever, without the production problems and the bottom line problems and the loans to the bank, without the hard stuff.

"I'm really in a kind of total creative phase rather than a bottom line phase - I'm supposed to just inspire!"

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