Image by Susanna Howe.
There is a lot of laughter on the other end of the phone line when the call goes through. All the principal members of the Frances Valentine team are gathered in their New York headquarters to talk about their reunion and the launch of their new footwear line. Well, except one. Andy Spade is running late—”Am I in trouble?,” he asks when he finally enters the room. To which the three women—his wife Kate Valentine (formerly Kate Spade), Design Director Paola Venturi and Head of Operations Elyce Arons—respond resoundingly “yes!”
The four were intimately involved in founding Kate Spade, now an international fashion label bought by Liz Claiborne, Inc. in 2007. Nearly 10 years later, the band is back together, and Kate has taken a new surname to associate herself with her new line, not, she assures, to distance herself from the handbag empire they once led.
Clockwise from left to right: Kate Valentine (formerly Kate Spade), Paola Venturi, Elyce Arons and Andy Spade.
Frances is a family name, passed down for generations on Kate’s father’s side. And Valentine was her father’s middle name. Andy and Kate’s daughter’s name is Frances Beatrix Valentine Spade, which would be a mouthful for merchandising. During their intermission, both Kate and Elyce spent time raising their children. Paola went to work for Prada. And Andy founded several creative ventures. Until it came time to reunite.
We spoke with all four about Frances Valentine, reinvention, advice for working moms and their friendship. Plus the quartet shared images from their new pre-fall campaign shot in Kate and Andy’s townhouse.