About: Introduction


It was impossible to turn off her imagination. That wish to create, it turned out, was wildflower-rooted in her being. Maybe you also know the beauty of beginnings, and the way it frees you: A cleared mind. A blank page. A clean slate.

The new of an idea. The growing aliveness of a vision. Shared with people who are your ilk. The tug it makes on your being. This, for us, is Frances Valentine.

She is our collected works and experiences. She is that transformative passion. That elusive must. That place of true belonging in our suitcases. That favorite of things. She is our friend, our aunt, our daughter, our dear and smart and irrepressibly unique ideal.

It turns out that there are still colors that clamor to be realized. There are patterns that riot our minds to be invented. There is fairness of form, and perfection in proportion to chase.

There was, is, still, a need for things that harken and herald and do a number on your heart. There is newness and never-beforeness that will not let a person go, no matter how she tries. It turns out that the heart wants to create an intertwining of past and present and future that has never before existed.

Things that belong to us, that are, in their making and their being, an ode, an attempt to continue to become the sort of woman, the sort of person, you admire beyond description.

And so, Frances Valentine.

The Founders

Kate Valentine Spade

Kate grew up in Kansas City. She met Andy Spade in 1983 at college. They moved to New York in 1986 where Kate started her career as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle. She saw that the market lacked practical, stylish handbags so she decided to try her hand at making a smart, well-edited collection. She and Andy created the company Kate Spade, joined by their mutual friend Elyce Arons, and later by shoe designer Paola Venturi, where Kate was twice honored with the prestigious CFDA award for Best Accessory Designer. Kate reunites with these same friends and partners to create Frances Valentine.

Andy Spade

Andy grew up in Arizona. He and Kate began dating in college. They came to New York together. Andy worked in advertising while co-founding Kate Spade and creating the men’s brand, Jack Spade. Andy is a partner in the design and branding studio Partners & Spade, in the art space Half Gallery, and the loungewear brand Sleepy Jones. He was voted one of the 100 most creative business people by Fast Company magazine in 2012. Andy has also written and produced a number of award winning feature and short films, and published several books of his own photography.

Paola Venturi

Paola grew up in Rimini, Italy, a town steeped in the craft of shoemaking. Paola studied at the Ars Sutoria in Milan and the School of Arts in Rimini, designed shoes for Sergio Rossi in Italy, and for Calvin Klein in New York before joining Kate Spade as design director for shoes. After Kate Spade, Paola designed shoe collections for Te Casan, Via Spiga, and Prada, leaving Prada to begin Frances Valentine.

Elyce Arons

Elyce grew up on a cattle farm in Kansas. She always dreamed of moving to NYC to work in the Fashion business. She and Kate met at the University of Kansas as freshmen, together they met Andy at ASU and the three became friends. Elyce moved to New York after college to work in fashion marketing and joined her old friends Kate and Andy in their new company Kate Spade as their business partner.

How It's Made

Frances Valentine is designed in New York City by Kate, Paola, and Andy. The first prototype of each shoe design is made on a hand carved wooden last. Every pair of shoes takes two full days to complete. Handbags are custom-made with specially developed hardware, leathers, and fabrics to Kate’s exacting specifications.

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The design team in action.

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Spring moodboards

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Wedge espadrille design

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Sketching in the showroom

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The early stages of the design process