Legendary fashion designer Betsey Johnson, responsible for many prom and Sweet Sixteen dresses, knows a thing or two about what girls want. And, according to her (just as the popular song goes), it’s to have fun. Which is why, on Thursday, the designer — who’s known for her whimsical prints, over-the-top designs, and her cartwheel skills! — announced a collaboration with underwear company Knix.
“It’s all about having a little fun with underwear,” Johnson tells Refinery29 of the collection, arriving on April 12. “When they asked me to work with them, it was more using my prints and getting kind of a personality into the garments.”
For the collection — which includes 21 items across sleepwear, underwear, and loungewear — Johnson tapped into some of her brand's most memorable archive prints, including leopard, Y2K-inspired butterflies, and blossoming roses. “If I wear underwear, it’d never be boring,” Johnson says of the design process.
While taking the call in her house, Johnson is dressed head-to-toe in pieces from the new collection, including a butterfly-printed white nightgown, which she calls “the best version of a Betsey slip dress” as she walks me through the lineup. This is the first time some of these prints have seen the light of day in years, according to Johnson, highlighting how special the collection is for both brands.
For Knix, which has cemented a reputation for size-inclusive intimates — ranging from an A to H cup in bras and XS to 4X in sleepwear — that prioritize comfort, the partnership is a way to connect their audience with Johnson’s decades-long legacy. Last year, the brand unveiled its first designer collaboration that similarly tapped into Anna Sui’s memorable career with mod-inspired prints and pastel colors.
“Knix knows their business,” says Johnson. “They are able to touch any customer, no matter what size, shape, and that they just wanted girls to have a little fun with the underwear.”
As Johnson approaches 80 years young this month, she’s an example to her customers — who she says range from four years old to 70-plus — that muted colors and monochrome looks are not a staple of aging. Instead, she plans to live in her butterfly-printed nightgown “all summer long.”
“It’s underwear but it’s also outerwear,” she says. “I mean, this is a great summer dress!”