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Betsey Johnson wows the crowd with her finale
Betsey Johnson shows her clothes, then steals her own thunder with finale
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' The highlight of Betsey Johnson's fashion show always comes at the end ' and it has nothing to do with the clothes. The 69-year-old designer does her cartwheel on the runway, and it brings down the house.

On Monday at New York Fashion Week, she added a split, which brought huge applause from the crowd that included Nicki Minaj.

"I try to go to the shows of people I respect, and when I respect you, I like you," said Patricia Field, the designer, stylist and, most famously, the costume designer for "Sex and the City," from her front-row perch.

Field said her ties to Johnson go back to 1969. "We came up in this industry together," she said.

Relationships seem to count a lot for Johnson. The first model on her runway was daughter Lulu, if you don't count her granddaughters who entertained the crowd before the lights went down with their pink-streaked hair and little dance numbers on the runway.

At the end of the show, Johnson invites models on stage with balloons and encourages them to smile ' normally a no-no for the catwalkers at the Lincoln Center tents at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

But they were having fun with prodding: Her collection was an eclectic mix of tongue-and-cheek (really, more cheek) prom-ready sequined dresses, lace babydolls and other assorted lingerie-inspired looks, and tough-girl tight outfits with skull and X-ray motifs.

She also willingly shared with her usual younger fans just how long she's been at this. Several of the prints on T-shirts and T-shirt dresses featured Polaroid shots of Johnson in her younger years. One kaftan was covered with her face and the clear date of 1977.

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