NYFW: Betsey Johnson on Her 'Dancing With the Stars' Debut

Betsey Johnson Tony Dovolani NYFW - H 2014
AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

During Johnson's spring 2015 presentation Wednesday, the energetic designer — known for cartwheels and splits at the end of her shows — told us she's ready to take it to the dance floor.

Season 19 of Dancing With the Stars begins Monday and Betsey Johnson is ready to shake it. The fashion designer is the latest sensation to join the show, along with Pretty Little Liars actress Janel Parrish and YouTube beauty vlogger Bethany Mota. The spry grandmother's end-of-show cartwheels and splits were already well-known amongst the fashion industry and the legions of Betseyphiles who collect her prom dresses, rosette-adorned frocks and decidedly girly, pink separates.

But now the 72-year-old's energy will broadcast every Monday night for 11 weeks. "I'm going to watch!" says the New York mayor's daughter Chiara de Blasio, who went backstage after attending the designer's New York Fashion Week runway show Wednesday.

The designer’s energy is legendary. Unlike her peers, who would be frantically trapped in their studios, Johnson attended the CFDA's 20th Anniversary party for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer and the kickoff of Snoopy and Belle in Fashion, just days before her own runway show, and bubbled over with excitement about her upcoming television appearance.

"I can’t wait! People think I'm in shape because I watch what I eat but I had been looking for a way to exercise, and I checked out things and didn't like them. I would run downstairs to [daughter] Lulu's and catch glimpses of whatever she had on TV and she loves all the reality TV. When I saw Dancing With the Stars, I thought, 'I'd like to do that one' because dancing is how I'd like to get healthy."

The excitement was definitely in the air during her runway show, which featured a tongue-in-cheek "prenup" theme sending nontraditional couples down the runway, with a white wedding dress finale donned by drag performer Sharon Needles. "I am excited for her," said actress Christina Milian who sat in the front row with her sister, and who will return to television in 2015 with Christina Milian Turned Up on E!.

But Johnson, who says she’s been doing it for eight days, muses that Dancing With the Stars will be hard. Since she has been making all the costumes for herself and dance partner Tony Dovolani, the two closed Johnson's fashion presentation with a jaunt down the runway.

“You know this was the best runway show of my 48 years, but at the end of the runway I wanted to do a bit of my dance and I couldn't remember it. Is that a bad sign? I fly to L.A. tomorrow and it will all be about remembering the dance," said the enthusiastic designer. "If I make it past the first round, do you know I get just five days to learn the next routine? I just hope I make it through the first round."

Others, however, are convinced Johnson will steal the show. Ruthie Davis — celebrity shoe designer to Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez — also was backstage with the designer, and indicated her vote would be a no-brainer "If anyone can pull this off, it's Betsey. She is so active and I can't wait to see what happens now when a trainer gets involved!"

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