Housewife on Prozac leads Johnson's bizarre parade

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The Independent Online
DRESSED, AS usual, in flamboyant attire - a lime-green tutu, purple lace bodice and neon pink footless tights - America's most eccentric designer, Betsey Johnson, performed cartwheels down the catwalk, as usual, to unveil her spring/summer 2000 collection in New York.

The 57-year-old ex-dancer likes to maintain her traditional opening, even when she's wearing perilously steep platform heels. A couple of hand- stands and pirouettes later and Johnson, microphone in her fishnet gloved hand, started to compere her own show.

Like an alternative beauty pageant, Johnson ushered on the models, all her friends - to an amusing voiceover which included a potted history on each girl, woman, boy, man, or drag queen. Her squeaky voice, barely audible above the throbbing hip-hop, gave the name, profession and description of the models' outfits.

"Number 9. Joy Rose. Lead singer of the band Housewives on Prozac and mother of four. She wears a lime net `puff' over black spring floral tank and textured bouquet Capri pants."

Then there was Squid, a stocky Oriental woman, "the bass player for the Lunachicks and a tattoo artist ... she enjoys body-building". She wore a red, embroidered silk charmeuse Shanghai sheath and an impressive display of tattoos snaking across her back, arms and legs. Other models included Teresa and Chelsea Tyler, daughters of Aerosmith's Steve Tyler, who sat with a bemused grin in the front row, graciously accepting the occasional kiss planted on his famous full lips by the designer.

With this round-up of friends as models, Johnson showed that any figure can carry off her girlish clothes - tall and willowy, short and round, or surgically enhanced to freakish proportions, like Amanda Lepore, the drag queen whose appendages were shown to full advantage in a yellow silk bikini.

As usual, Johnson's collection was a combination of all-American apple-pie sweetness and eye-popping sex appeal. A breath of fresh air in the too-often serious world of impeccably polished New York fashion.

For the glossy side of the Big Apple, look no further than Marc Jacobs, darling of the American fashion establishment, to deliver a faultless collection of thoroughbred sports- wear. The 35-year-old, from the start a fashion legend and influential design prodigy, is now, along with his own-name line, responsible for design at Louis Vuitton, most successful brand by far within the French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH.

He is obviously putting into practice what he has learnt at that stable, not least how to package one good idea and spin it out to create a strong, cohesive collection of desirables.

The idea this season was to come up with a thoroughly modern jeans line, which is bound to take the designer denim market by storm and sell. Everything was branded with a Sixties-style sunburst stitched logo, from the denim or suede jackets, cut with razor-like precision, to the sexiest drainpipe jeans, some with big turn ups, others with scarlet piping to define the graphic seaming details.

The flip side of the concept was Jacobs' quintessential pretty but decidedly cool, pinafore dresses, where filmy layers or opaque satins were dotted with paillettes to play up the complex seams. Again, these should sell in shed-loads.