Live: Ida Maria Play Betsey Johnson’s Plaza Hotel Fashion Week Party


Ida Maria
Betsey Johnson Spring 2010 Fashion Week Party
Plaza Hotel
September 15

As Betsey Johnson showers her with kisses – on one cheek, on the other, on the forehead, smack, smack, smack – the Norwegian synaesthetic Ida Maria smirks and adjusts her brilliantly sequined leggings, appraising the Plaza Hotel ballroom from her makeshift riser. She is admirably serene in the bright dervish squalor of Johnson’s “One Night Stand” Fashion Week party; at her feet, duly lacquered trendbots hoot along the designer’s antics and surreptitiously evaluate the swag in their gift bags (a haul of makeup, lingerie, and Vitamin Water). On the adjacent stage, models in leopard-print tube dresses and neon steampunk petticoats mug for the industry photographers; they know everyone has stuffed into these confines to see the new collection on their backs, and their job is to dance and giggle to reflect the incalculable fun and sex soon available for purchase. That’s the Betsey Johnson way, and has been since the ’60s, when the ebullient, eternally youthful designer patched geometric strips on her fit model, Edie Sedgwick.

PJ Harvey would hyperventilate here; Ida Maria is in her element. She howls over the fashionista din, the defeatist strains of “Oh My God” now a championing purr, and it’s the ideal embodiment of Johnson’s prettified rock-rat aesthetic. (After all, the designer was briefly married to John Cale). When Ida Maria entreats her lover “Louie,” ripping apart the bass notes like so many flimsy excuses, she possesses the relic Plaza space, a new demon to rule old ghosts. Her peroxide straws are gelled straight up to the ceiling like the Slim Jim mascot, giving her an air of cartoonish shock, and they twitch with her every brazen cry. Johnson bounces joyfully near the drummer. A handful of entranced models leap daintily from their posts nearby and sway lasciviously in front of the bassist. He does not seem to mind.