Way back in the day, or almost four years ago (which seems like ages, but that’s a different post for another time), I wrote about Brandon Aldridge of Morganton. He has an incredibly interesting personal story, which took him from a textile mill to App State (twice) to Manhattan designing with the iconic Betsey Johnson. Click here and here to read the story.
I was delighted when I got the chance to catch up with Brandon recently to find out about his involvement in “XOX Betsey,” a reality show debuting on the Style Network on May 12.
Catch me up on the last 3-4 years. When we last spoke, you had left Betsey to consult/freelance design for other companies. What have you been doing?
“I designed freelance for a few companies over the 2-year Betsey hiatus and tried to start my own collection a couple of times with Chinese manufacturers but that never worked out. It’s really hard to get a business like that off the ground, especially when you have to put so much money into it and the economy has tanked!”
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How/when did you and Betsey get back together?
”I was contacted in the spring of 2011 by the new Design Director at Betsey and they were looking for a Senior Designer. I met with Betsey, went through the appropriate channels, and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I went back full time in May of 2011. The company filed for chapter 11 in May of 2012 and the office doors closed. Betsey told us over champagne and cupcakes in the showroom. I freelanced some over the summer and then took a nice vacation. I went to Betsey’s 70th birthday party in August 2012 where the reality show had started filming. I was not really interested in being on camera so snuck into the venue (they were making everyone sign releases at the door) and waited until the crew left before going over to wish Betsey a happy birthday. When she saw me she asked if I were working to which I replied no and she asked if I would be her “main man” for the 70th birthday/retrospective fashion show coming up in September. Since working on the NYFW shows was always the most exciting part of the job, how could I say no?! I showed up for my first day back at work (third time’s a charm) and was met by Betsey and a camera crew at the elevators. The sound guy said “Hey bud, are you Brandon? I’m Chris. Let me get you miked up” and we started filming. One of the craziest, surprising moments of my lifeone I won’t soon forget.”
What is your title/duties now? “I am a Creative Consultant for the Betsey Johnson brand and her Design Assistant Extraordinaire. Steve Madden owns the brand now and Betsey is the Creative Director. Betsey and I provide creative direction for all the licensees including apparel, shoes, jewelry, handbags, and eyewear. We provide trend direction, source prints, compile color palettes, shop and distribute vintage inspiration, and meet regularly with the licensees to work on their product categories. It has been a nice change to go from designing everyday to being the inspiration for the designers.”
Describe your experience being part of a television show. Weird? Crazy? Cool?
“All of the above. Its been a very interesting experience and sometimes stressful. It was really difficult working on the fashion show cameras everywhere! It will also be interesting to see how its been put together because we’re not allowed to see any footage until it airs.”
OK, now some fashion Qs: What line/designer are you obsessed with at the moment? (Not including Betsey, of course)
“I am obsessed with Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. I have always loved over-the-top creativity and she has certainly mastered that. I also love how she has kept the aesthetic true to the brand after Lee McQueen’s passing. I find the clothing so inspiring.”
What was your last clothing/shoe/accessory purchase?
”I recently bought a new Prada bag. It was time for a new one. I carried the last one every day for 6 years and it was falling apart.”
What is your one must-have item for summer 2013?
”For women, a pair of cute kitten heels. For men, a pair of Van’s classic slip-ons.”