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Betsey Johnson throws herself a 70th birthday bash

Betsey Johnson throws herself a 70th birthday bash © The Associated Press Betsey Johnson throws herself a 70th birthday bash

NEW YORK (AP) — Betsey Johnson threw herself a big, crazy 70th birthday party with pal Cyndi Lauper belting "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and confetti-slinging models prancing decade-by-decade down a runway in her wild clothes, including one clutching a not-happy-looking baby pig.

Johnson's grown daughter, Lulu, popped out of a huge faux birthday cake onstage and watched with her two young kids as grandma performed her signature cartwheel and split.

Some in the crowd had waited more than an hour to get in Tuesday night. Others, including invited guests, were turned away at the door after the fire marshal showed up at a rented 42nd Street space.

The party was heavy with industry folk in town for New York Fashion Week. Lil' Kim stopped by to wish Johnson well.

If anybody deserves a night out, it's the flamboyant Johnson, a breast cancer survivor who lost control of her signature boutiques earlier this year.

All 63 of them in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. held going-out-of-business sales in May through July. Johnson founded the fashion house known for funky, puffy party dresses in 1978, but Betsey Johnson LLC became mired in debt when the recession rolled in and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April.

Steve Madden Ltd., which owns the Betsey Johnson intellectual property rights, said the company will continue to sell Betsey Johnson clothing and other products on a wholesale basis and online. The icon still oversees moderately priced clothing sold in department stores, along with accessories and other licenses.

So why not celebrate?

Huge video displays along the walls of the party offered glimpses of her rock roots in the swinging '60s, as did the runway. Models held up glitter-lettered signs marking the decades, culminating in new clothes for spring with a princess theme. They twirled and shimmied before a bra-clad parade of models in skimpy sparkle bottoms spelled out "cheers" in pink letters attached to their backsides.

Some models waddled down the runway in multicolored swim flippers, and others with rolling luggage and Jetson-like space age outfits — one shooting off play ray guns.

The staged filled up for the finale with models clutching pink, black and silver balloons and wearing slinky black shorts and tank tops that read "Guys (heart) B.J."

Johnson's actual birthday is Aug. 10, 1942, but who's counting?


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