After being transferred to Birmingham with her husband’s company in 1974, Betsy Printz missed her exciting career working in the upscale fashion houses in New York. She longed to once again be immersed in the creativity of that dynamic, fast-paced art world, and to again witness the birth of cutting-edge trends on the streets of New York City. Driven by her desire to return to the nexus of daring designers and fearless fashionistas, Betsy founded the Betsy Prince boutique in Colonial Brookwood Village in 1981. That same year, Bezshan Dolatabadi joined her team of style mavens in the shoe department. Bezshan, an intuitive fashion mind and formidable retailer in his own right, quickly rose through the ranks, joining Betsy on trips to New York and Paris to discover new designers.
During a time when most Birmingham locals were still going to Atlanta to buy their fashionable shoes, Bezshan was appointed shoe buyer and introduced a new pantheon of interesting designers to the boutique’s shelves. One of his favorite designer labels, Dusica Dusica Shoes, gracefully balances architectural shapes with functional design, mirroring Bezshan’s own standards when it comes to buying shoes. “Aside from being beautiful, our only stipulation is that they must be comfortable, because pain is not fashion.” says Bezshan. “All of our shoes are tried on at market and tested for comfort and fit.” He is also inspired by texture and color, as well as women who are unapologetic and exuberant in the art of expressing their personal style, citing Iris Apfel as a style icon who, as he says, “even in old age has not lost her zest and zeal for creative dressing.”
Now full buyer and general manager, Bezshan leads the associates at Betsy Prince on the constant hunt for unique designers. Semiretired and splitting her time between homes in Birmingham, Cabo San Lucas and Vail, Betsy still relishes discovering inspired, forward-thinking designs for the store during her extensive travels to Paris, New York, Milan, Tokyo, Bangkok and Shanghai.
“Our style has always been creative dressing,” says Bezshan. “The Betsy Prince client does not want to look like everyone else in the city. She is confident enough to carry her own style and is willing to try new trends and directions.” And the racks at Betsy Prince perfectly reflect this philosophy—from high-end carved leather vests by Susan Reidweg and feminine charmeuse Peter Cohen dresses that evoke the playful energy of the Roaring ’20s to the vintage charm of designer Johnny Was’ modern-bohemian clothing.
The team at Betsy Prince keeps its fingers on the pulse of what’s trending, but remains ever-mindful of the individual’s comfort level and personal style preferences, regardless of current trends. “We interpret trends to fit the individual, tailoring their wardrobe to complement their lifestyle and fashion tastes,” says Bezshan, adding, “People might not realize that we offer free wardrobing services. So you can make an appointment with one of our associates and, after consulting with you, we can assemble a seasonal selection from head to toe, even incorporating your favorites from your own closet.”
The focus on individual style doesn’t stop there. Bezshan and select associates shop the New York City and Paris markets with their Birmingham clientele in mind, even taking customers’ wish lists, so they can fill specific fashion needs. “Many of our customers are long-term clients and have been with us for our 34-year history, so we have a good sense for what they will like,” says Bezshan. “But we also pride ourselves on introducing completely new, cutting-edge, creative designers to Birmingham, and that is still our quest.”
It’s not just their passion for “creative dressing” that sets Betsy Prince apart, but their celebration of Birmingham’s confident women who are unafraid to step out of the box and embrace their own signature style.
Betsy Prince is located at 608 Brookwood Village in Birmingham. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (205) 871-1965 or visit betsyprinceboutique.com or the Betsy Prince Facebook page to stay abreast of upcoming trunk shows and more.