At Fashion Week, logically enough, the bulk of celebrity interviews tend to revolve around the subject at hand: clothes, the acquisition of clothes, and the adoration of clothes. But some questions are simply too important, too vital to our national identity and welfare, to leave unasked. And so it was with this great mandate from the universe that we inched toward One Tree Hill’s Shantel VanSanten at Betsey Johnson on Monday and asked how the CW soap could possibly top the episode in which a villain watched a dog eat the heart that was supposed to be transplanted into his chest. “It’s hard to top that,” she admitted. “In fact, I don’t think you do top that. I think that is the top.”
VanSanten, who started modeling at 15 to put herself through college, was friendly and poised in the Betsey front row despite copping to occasional nerves about the pressure of the spotlight. “Everyone thinks, ‘Oh, that looks so easy, how fun,’ and it is fun, but I can’t help feeling so much anxiety,” she said. “Like, ‘Should I do this? Should I sit down? Do they want my picture or am I in the way?’” If it were us, we’d take one look at those hot, bright flashes and run headfirst into the nearest croissant, so she’s already about a hundred paces ahead of where we would be. But there were still pressing issues to discuss: Last we saw VanSanten’s character, Quinn, she’d been shot in the gut by her super-hot boyfriend’s dead wife’s look-alike, played by Jodie Sawyer from Center Stage (a ballet movie, which ties us back to Lincoln Center — synergy!), and we were worried for her. “I was a little worried for her, too,” VanSanten laughed. “But you know, on One Tree Hill, people come back alive, they come back as ghosts … you never know.” And would her onscreen paramour, played by Robert Buckley, do us the courtesy of taking off his shirt anytime soon? “I think there might be a little of that,” she grinned. “I just wish [their characters] would have sex already. I mean come on!” Then she paused. “Honestly, even if he were hideous, he’d still be the nicest person alive. He’s like my brother.” Yes, and people with super-hot brothers are honor-bound to hook them up with their friends. And we’re pretty sure our conversation makes us friends … right?
VanSanten sat next to reigning Miss USA Rima Fakih, who wore a dress with a tutu skirt and her iconic sash. One aisle over from them sat Kelly Osbourne and Carmen Electra, who — like Denise Richards across the way — had spent the half-hour between Chris Benz and Betsey quickly changing their clothes, yet magically without mussing their hair or makeup. We’re always so curious as to how and where they manage to do this. Backstage with the models? In their limo? In the stall of a nearby restaurant’s public bathroom? Richards opted for pink sequins, Kelly looked very spring/summer in a floral dress, and Electra — her seatmate, with whom she gabbed a fair bit during the show, picked black. Just as the lights went down, we saw Ciara perched on Electra’s other side, wearing thigh-high leather Louboutin boots and a polka-dot garter-belt dress. Ciara must have had a tough day: She was at the VMAs Sunday night, and flying cross-country in time to look pretty and alert at a fashion show is no easy feat.
In that respect, it’s a good thing Ciara was at Betsey, because there is no livelier event in town. It’s like ocular caffeine. This year’s event had a cycling theme, “Tour de Betsey,” beginning with the song “Bicycle Race” by Queen along with video footage of Johnson riding two-wheelers all around Manhattan with her grandchildren. Backed by that, the models came down the runway in various sporty outfits with jackets and bling that encouraged us all to — caps hers — “RIDE ME.” One model came down the runway on a skateboard, and earned a supportive whoop from the crowd when she lost a shoe and had to get off and shoulder the skateboard all the way back up the runway. Then we got some sailor outfits to the tune of “In the Navy,” and a neon array of Betsey’s signature froufy party dresses. Betsey closed the show by coming out on a bike, performing her signature cartwheel, and then flopping triumphantly — and exhaustedly, we’re sure — onto her back for a second while her models came out wearing yellow-jersey-themed outfits and waving checkered flags.
The models flouncing down the catwalk at Betsey always seem to be having as good a time as the crowd does, but VanSanten did say there are definite benefits to being in the seats instead of on the runway. “Before, I always loved watching the shows and walking in them,” she said. “But now I can eat and watch the shows. It’s like, ‘Aha!’” Sounds like a girl who appreciates the glories of a croissant as much as we do.
See more: Betsey Johnson’s Spring 2011 Collection