Frances Valentine was born of Kate’s irrepressibly joyous creative nature, and her desire to make, and keep making things, for the pure pleasure of doing it.
Kate connected with so many of us on such a deep level.
She was someone who could have said, “I can’t do this. I don’t have the background, the degree, the experience.”
Starting with cardboard and paper and an idea, she showed us all, through her example, the joyful power that self-expression and creativity can have if we ignore doubt, critics and naysayers.
If we stay true to our own vision, our work, our friends.
We believed in Kate because she did it, over and over, with such grace and kindness.
We all loved her for it.
Kate Valentine Spade
Kate Valentine Spade co-founded kate spade with her husband Andy in 1993 after enjoying a successful career as an accessories editor. In 1986, she took a job at Mademoiselle magazine, leaving in 1991 as senior fashion editor. Kate realized the market lacked stylish, practical handbags and so decided to try her hand at designing a smart, well-edited collection. In 1996, The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) honored Kate’s classic designs by awarding her America’s New Fashion Talent in Accessories. She was honored once again by the CFDA in 1998 as Best Accessory Designer of the Year. In 1999, the Cooper Hewitt Museum exhibited Kate’s designs in the first National Design Triennial. Additional accolades include an Elle Decor International Design Award and House Beautiful’s Giants of Design, both in 2004. In 2016 Kate launched Frances Valentine, a new collection of handbags and shoes with her husband Andy Spade and longtime collaborators Elyce Arons and former Kate Spade and Prada alum Paola Venturi. Kate passed away suddenly in June 2018. She will be remembered not only for her iconic designs and impeccable sense of style, but for her authenticity, charm, and ability to connect to friends and fans alike. She was a true visionary and an inspiration to us all.
Andy Spade started his career in advertising working on brands such as Coca-Cola and Lexus. In 1993, he and his wife Kate founded the iconic Kate Spade and Jack Spade fashion lines, which grew to 26 stores across North America and Japan, and earned the couple the CFDA award for excellence in design. In addition to launching the branding and design studio Partners & Spade, Andy has written and produced a number of award-winning short and feature films, and was named one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company. In 2013, Sleepy Jones was established with long-time collaborators Anthony Sperduti and Chad Buri to create a collection of sleepwear and not-quite-ready-to-wear for men and women inspired by the lifestyles of artists. Andy’s most recent venture is Frances Valentine, a collection of women’s handbags and shoes he launched with longtime partners, Kate, Elyce Arons and Paola Venturi in 2016.
Elyce Arons was born in Kansas and spent her youth working on her family’s fifth generation cattle farm. She migrated to the East coast after college, fulfilling her life-long ambition of living and working in New York City. She learned the fashion trade during years working at the French apparel company Marithe & Francois Girbaud, eventually heading up Marketing and Communications of the firm’s North American partner VF Corporation. Ultimately, Elyce joined forces with her former college roommate, Kate Spade, as a partner in the successful eponymously named fashion brand Kate Spade LLC. While at Kate Spade, LLC, Elyce oversaw and managed Sales, International Expansion into Asia, Business Development with Licensed Products, Finance, Human Resources, Legal, Production and the Warehouse facilities. At Frances Valentine, Elyce manages Sales, Ecommerce business, Production, Public Relations and Finance. Elyce is currently and has been a member of the Board of Directors of Grace Church School where she served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for 5 years. She is currently President of the Parents Association and Co-Chair of the Grace Church Campaign committee. Additionally, Elyce has served on the Board of Directors for privately held firms such as Serena and Lilly LLC, and others. She and her husband Andy have three daughters.
Paola Venturi grew up in Rimini, Italy, a town steeped in the craft of shoemaking. Paola Studied design at the Ars Sutoria in Milan and the School of Arts in Rimini. Paola has designed collections for Gian Marco Lorenzi, Sergio Rossi, Calvin Klein,Te Casan, Via Spiga, Kate Spade and most recently Prada, where she was the Design Director for the women’s shoe collections from 2011-2014. Paola has overseen seasonal footwear collections as Creative Director and Senior Designer for these companies, defining concepts, developing components, creating hardware, merchandising the collections and presenting to sales teams. Currently at Frances Valentine, Paola works closely with Kate to discuss trends, develop new shoe components, sketch new concepts and provide all technical specifications and materials for shoe design. Paola met Kate, Andy and Elyce when she was hired to be the Design Director for Shoes at Kate Spade, LLC from 2001-2007. She departed from Prada in 2014 to begin Frances Valentine.