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A Mob Scene For Betsey Johnson at Aventura Mall

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The girls came in numbers fit for a rock star -- droves, from East and West and North and South and points beyond what any mere compass could position. And they were draped in shades no rainbow ever even fathomed. Think all the colors of all the rarest tropical fish -- and then amplify. Cerulean blues and scarlet reds and absolute chartreuses, each as if rendered by Pixar. And then of course a rampant pink that out-shone even the work of Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers.

Then again, Chloris probably was in on that wild color's creation, just as she's undoubtedly been in on all the ultra-vivid action stirred up by fashion designer Betsey Johnson. But not even a goddess rates the kind of response Johnson received when she blew into her namesake Aventura boutique this past Saturday.

In a word, it was one big "Wow!," from the horde in front of the boutique's door, to the throng that surrounded the great lady inside her store. It was a thrilling reminder of what the best, bold fashion can mean to people. And to be sure, Johnson is one of the best and the boldest - she's also one of the longest-standing success stories in the biz.

"Can you believe I've been doing this since the '60s?" she asks me. And I assure her that had I not read that very fact just that morning, I most certainly would never have even guessed. To me, Betsey's always represented the '80s, because that's when I first encountered her fine line -- perhaps just as others consider her to be of whatever era they first discovered the brand.

That gives her an undivided timelessness, as evidenced in the "sorority club" that invaded Aventura to glimpse the uber-fashionista. Many, if not most, in the crowd were probably born in the '80s, and from what I gathered they all consider Betsey to be right now.

But Betsey and Miami do go back, or as she tells it, way back.

"We had a store here a hundred years ago, in Coconut Grove," Betsey remembers. "South Beach hadn't even happened yet. Then of course we did do South Beach."

"I wish I would've bought a place back then though," she adds, with a rare regret. "My daughter does not let that drop!"

Still, even without her own Miami digs, Betsey seems to be making out splendidly. This trip she and her entourage stayed at the W Miami Beach, which Betsey "loves." It's also where the up-to-the-minute modernist was "amazed" to find the same furnishings she just acquired for her own Manhattan abode. Betsey also "loves" all the W's "cubbyholes," as well as Mr. Chow. And when she's not dining on site, Betsey counts Casa Tua among her other Miami favorites.

It's a cinch that both the W and Casa Tua dig Betsey Johnson in return, just as every one of the fans who amassed at Aventura unequivocally digs her. And if the buzz that attended Saturday's drive-by is any indication, that dig is gonna be dug for a long, long time to come.

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