On the morning of June 5th, the world mourned the loss of Kate Spade, an iconic fashion designer and businesswoman. Although she had already left us, we will always remember how her work and creativity left a mark in the industry.
Katherine Noel Brosnahan, along with her husband Andy Spade, were the founders of Kate Spade New York, a brand that started out with a line of handbags but eventually expanded with a collection of shoes and accessories as well.
Kate’s designs weren’t known to be over-the-top. They never looked exaggerated or extreme; instead, they were simple, functional, and practical—a perfect fit for women who are “preppy with attitude,” as described by the Washington Post.
The billion-dollar brand rose to the top and stayed there, but its namesake felt the need to step away from fashion for a while. Kate and Andy sold their shares to Liz Claiborne in 2006, and gave their full attention to their daughter, Frances Beatrix. “We had a baby in 2005…I wanted to leave on good terms, it was the perfect time to leave,” says Kate in a 2017 interview. “I wanted to spend time with my daughter. I’d heard so many horror stories about people who sell and then they stay and then they fight and they sue…so I thought, oh, that’s too ugly for me…so it was seamless. It was a very quiet exit.” She adds.
A decade later, the designer embarked on her next fashion endeavor: Frances Valentine, which was derived from a mash-up of names in her family tree. “Frances is a longtime family name on my dad’s side. My grandfather, father, brother, and my daughter’s name is Frances. And then Valentine was my mom’s dad’s middle name because he was born on Valentine’s Day.” She revealed during an interview with WWD.
Kate wanted Frances Valentine to offer something different, she even changed her name to Kate Valentine to match her company. "I definitely went into this not wanting to repeat what I've done or what's being done through my namesake," she told InStyle during an interview. "I respect what they're doing and what I did then, but it's important that there's a distinction and that you can feel it."
The fashion line launched with a wave of accessories, which range from $300 to $700, priced a little higher than the products of Kate Spade New York, mainly because Frances Valentine’s pieces are produced in Spain and Italy. The company also released a collection of straw bags, flats, pumps, and loafers that come in playful colors, which can be purchased through their website.
One of the brand’s iconic pieces is the Greta Tassled Loafer. It retails for $465, and has a metallic snakeskin leather upper, topped with a gold tassel embellishment.
From the handbag collection, one of their unique and most-loved designs is the Honeypot Basket, which comes in three colors: Metallic Blue, Black, and Platino. It’s a mini handwoven basket with a silver chain handle, whose body is handcrafted with cornhusk. Their website describes it as “perfect for that party on the beach or night out on the town.”
After the news of Kate’s passing, everyone’s asking the same question—what’s next for Frances Valentine? Well, we don’t have an answer to that yet, but what we do know is that Kate Spade’s contributions to the fashion world will never be forgotten. Her legacy lives on.