Perry Ellis – Behind the Curtains

There are a number of Woodbury Commons stores and each one has a fascinating story to tell. Occasionally we’ll dive a little deeper into the story of one store at the premium outlet mall and today we are looking at Perry Ellis – Behind the Curtains.

The History of Fashion Icon Perry Ellis

Perry Ellis was a modern fashion icon that founded a sportswear house in the 1970s. He passed away in 1986, and he was born in 1950 in Virginia. He is still remembered today, even over 25 years after he has left this earth.

Early Life and Education

Ellis came from a middle-class family who owned a coil and oil company. He was the only child born to Edwin and Winifred Rountree Ellis, and he went to Woodrow High School in Portsmouth, Virginia.

He graduated from Woodrow in 1957 and then went on to study business administration at College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Perry Ellis later enlisted in the Coast Guard. Six months later enrolled at New York University where he received a master’s degree in retailing, and graduated in 1963.

His Retail and Fashion Career

His first retail job was at the Miller & Rhoads store in Richmond, Virginia. Here is where he first gained experience in the fashion industry as a buyer and merchandiser.

Perry Ellis then later co-founded A Sunny Day, which was a shop that also opened up in the Richmond area. He later partnered up with the sportswear company John Meyer.

Later on some time in the mid 1970s, The Vera Companies proposed that Ellis design a fashion collection for them. It was not to long after this that his firstPerry Ellis line of women’s sportswear was created.

He himself did not sketch his designs. However, he worked together with drawers to create a very steamlined yet casual line of spots clothing that was well-received by women everywhere

In 1978, Perry Ellis International was opened on Seventh Avenue. Some time after the opening of this showroom he then developed a menswear collection that was not traditional but still included modern classics.

He then expanded into the creation of shoes, accessories, furs, and fragrances. All of these bore his name on them as a brand.

Perry Ellis continued to be very influential in the fashion world until the 1980s when he died. His company also grew quite substantially, and by 1982 it employed more than 75 people.

Only two years before this great fashion icon passed away, he had a solid partnership with Levi Strauss lined up. He also revived some of his earlier lines of clothing that were sold under the label Portfolio.

More Info

Perry Ellis seemed like a light-hearted person even though he ended upon dying of AIDS in 1986. It was as if he enjoyed what he did as a career-as if it was his life. He is very well known for his trademark skip down the red carpet runway at the closing of his fashion shows.

By 1986 his wholesale revenues had reached $250 million. That is a huge rise in profits from the early 1980s, when his company already made a wholesale revenue of $60 million.

During his fashion career Perry Ellis also won a number of awards. Some of these include the Coty Awards (a total of eight between 1979 and 1984). He also received a CFDA fashion award in 1981. Recognitions were also given in his name after his death to encourage other emerging fashion designers.


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Betsey Johnson – Behind the Curtains

There are a number of Woodbury Commons stores and each one has a fascinating story to tell. Occasionally we’ll dive a little deeper into the story of one store at the premium outlet mall and today we are looking at Betsey Johnson – Behind the Curtains.

The History of Fashion Icon Betsey Johnson

In 1942, famous modern American fashion icon Betsey Johnson was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut. She has grown from being a busy schoolgirl always taking dance classes to eventually becoming a worldwide sensation.

Educational History and Career

It was her time as a performing artist that inspired her love for costumes. She completed high school and then went on to study at Pratt Institute, and then received her degree from Syracuse University where she graduated with honors.

She began making active steps toward a fashion career right after college. One of her first experiences was her spending a summer as a Mademoiselle magazine intern.

Betsey Johnson also took another step towards advancing her career that proved to be very fruitful. She entered the Mademoiselle Guest Editor Contest, which she won. That was one honor that helped shape her future.

Within the same year of winning that award, Johnson became the Manhattan boutique Paraphernalia in-house designer. She was also very influential as a participant in an underground “youthquake” fashion movement.

One of Johnson’s most memorable opportunities as her career took off included designing wardrobes using Edie Sedgwick, Lou Reed (former Velvet Underground singer) and other famous people as models. In fact, Betsey Johnson designs Sedgwick’s wardrobe for the movie Ciao!

Additional Career AccomplishmentsBetsey Johnson

Within Betsey Ross’s first year as an Alley Cat fashion label designer her creations generated about $5 million in revenue. In 1972, she won the Coty Award, and then in 1978 it was time. She began her own fashion line, of which the first of the two she originally released to the public were a huge success.

She recovered from her second fashion line failure by opening her own retail store in the Manhattan village of SoHo. She now owns more than 45 stores located worldwide. As of 2002, Johnson became a part of the Fashion Walk of Fame and in 2003 her line began to include hats, scarves, handbags, jewelry, and more.

Because of her efforts in fashion, she won the 2009 Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement in Fashion. She was and still is an international sensation.

Personal Info

Betsey Johnson was married to John Cale who was a member of Velvet Underground. However, they were divorced less than a year later. She did have a daughter in 1975, who was born right after one of her children’s wear fashion shows.

Then, she became a grandma in 2006. Backing up a few years, Betsey Johnson was unfortunately diagnosed with breast cancer. However, she recovered after receiving a lumpectomy and radiation treatment.

Just like most famous people, she has dealt with her share of trials and tribulations as well as her joys. However, no matter what happens to her she still seems to carry on and not let her personal life drag her down.

Additional Facts

Like many fashion designers, Betsey Johnson has her own end-of-the-show fashion moves. She does a cartwheel down the red carpet. As far as her designs are concerned, they are often considered “over the top.” However, that is most likely because she dresses quite a bit of musicians and performers as well as other actors and actresses of the of the rock generation.


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Calvin Klein – Behind the Curtains

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Kate Spade – Behind the Curtains

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