The KC designer formerly known as Kate Spade launches a chic and playful new accessories brand, Frances Valentine, just in time for spring.
435 Magazine caught up with KC native, former 435 Magazine cover girl, and prolific creative designer Kate Spade to talk about her covetable new collection of shoes and bags. Spade recently renamed herself Kate Valentine in honor of her new fashion company formed with husband Andy Spade and design partners, Elyce Arons, a Kansas native, and Paola Venturi, a Rimini, Italy, native, who formerly designed shoes for Prada. The company name is inspired by Spade’s daughter, Frances, and one of Kate’s family names, Valentine. Fresh from a local appearance at Halls on Grand, to introduce her sparkling new line, Valentine reveals her favorite KC go-to’s, classic style icons, and what’s in store for the future of her new brand.
As for her clever and colorful accessories: think snakeskin sling-black sandals with feathered pom-poms, hot pink Valentina sandals with flirty tassel ties, beach-ready Cabana-stripe espadrilles, bejeweled metallic flats, flashy gold or silver bucket bags, watercolor floral clutches and Crayola-colored shoes with faceted jewel-like heels that betray all the wit and panache of the designer behind the Kate Spade line. (The former Mademoiselle magazine accessories editor sold her eponymous company, Kate Spade, in 2006). Her equally charming new company, Frances Valentine, represents an exuberant love letter to preppy-chic and can be found exclusively in Kansas City at Halls on Grand. As Kate succinctly says of the customers of her modern and carefully crafted new line, “No one needs another shoe or bag. They have to fall in love with it.”
Frances Valentine founders Kate Valentine (far left), Paola Venturi, Elyce Arons and Andy Spade
Did you personify Frances Valentine and/or your customers while designing your line, and if so, can you describe her?
Yes. She is a collection of so many women in my family and friends. She works, loves design and has a family.
Who are some of your personal style icons?
My mother, Beatrix Ost and Katharine Hepburn.
What can you tell us about the craftsmanship of the shoes?
Most of the shoes are made in Italy and Spain. The factories are small and family-owned.
What can you tell us about the handbags?
We have had a great response to them because they are functional and made in really great leathers.
Do you plan to expand the line in the future, and if so, what products?
We will expand at our own pace. We have a small collection of sunglasses coming out soon. I love jewelry — so perhaps sometime in the future.
Do you plan to open brick-and-mortar stores in the future?
Yes, eventually we hope to open our own shop in New York.
I hear your design studio is quite delightful. Can you briefly describe it?
It’s a great wide-open space with 20-foot ceilings overlooking Bryant Park. We can watch the ice skaters through the window.
What are your favorite go-to spots in Kansas City when you visit?
Ponak’s, Andrés, visiting the Plaza and the antique stores
How has Halls helped with your brand launch?
Halls has always been a big supporter of our business. They are great!
Favorite movie for style inspiration?
The documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
What fashion decade do you prefer and why?
The late ‘50s and early ‘60s — I just love the style of those years.
Is there any particular female, past or present, who you would love to see wearing Frances Valentine?
I know she is young, but does your daughter, Frances, have a favorite piece from the collection?
She likes the Frances — named after her.