The fashion industry is mourning after news broke of legendary handbag designer Kate Spade’s death Tuesday, June 5. Spade is survived by her husband, Andy Spade, her 13-year-old daughter Frances Beatrix, and her newest fashion company Frances Valentine, named after her daughter.
Although Frances Valentine is only a few short years old, Spade’s company has resonated with millions of people across the globe.
Here’s what you need to know about Frances Valentine:
1. Spade Changed Her Name Publicaly to Match Her Newest Company
Although Spade will always be known and remembered as Kate Spade, she recently according to Cosmopolitan.to Kate Valentine to match her newest company,
“It kind of makes [me] sound kind of cool, like a rap star or something,” she told Business of Fashion in 2016. “But we’re not trying to be cheeky or coy. It really was to distinguish the name, and separate the two worlds. Obviously we’re super proud of Kate Spade and we want to be [respectful] of both.”
In a 2016 interview with The Wall Street Journal, she gave her legal full name as “Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan.”
2. Frances Valentine Has a Similar Aesthetic as the Original Kate Spade Brand
After Spade sold her original company in 2006 to Neiman Marcus who bought it for $125 million, Spade took some time off to raise her daughter and focus on philanthropic work, Cosmopolitan reports.
“We had a baby in 2005…I wanted to leave on good terms, it was the perfect time to leave,” the designer told NPR 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.”
However, Spade returned to the fashion scene a decade later when she launched Frances Valentine. She even partnered with some of the same investors with whom she had started her original venture with in 1993. Spade decided to keep the “brand narrow,” and focused on handbags and shoes with Frances Valentine.
Although she launched a new line, fans of the original Kate Spade brand should have felt right at home; Spade kept much of the same aesthetic of the original brand, with “colorful, quirky and boxy” items, reports Cosmopolitan.
3. Frances Valentine is a Family Name, with Several of Spade’s Relatives Named Frances
The newest brand was named for her now 13-year-old daughter, as well as several other members of Spade’s family, according to an interview she gave to the WWD.
“Frances is a longtime family name on my dad’s side,” she told WWD in an article published in November 2015. “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.”
Spade’s husband oversaw the brand identity for Frances Valentine and talked about how the company’s advertising campaigns reflected the couple’s life in New York City in an interview with Fast Company: “We’re trying to figure out what our lives are now and how to talk about that — how to tell a more grown-up narrative of where we are today.”
4. Spade Described Frances Valentine’s Brand as “Simply Modern” & Runs Slightly Higher than the Kate Spade Brand
There are some big differences and similarities between the Kate Spade brand and Frances Valentine. Similarities include three of the founding partners: Elyce Arons, a co-founder of Kate Spade, Paola Venturi who joined Kate Spade as a design director, and the original Spades – Kate and Andy.
According to Fast Company, Spade said that she wanted a “new architectural perspective to her work.” So they made a signature heel that is a textured knob, a nod to Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome. “The shoes really have a very different and distinct point of view,” says Anne Egan, VP and divisional merchandise manager for salon and designer shoes at Nordstrom.
“Simply modern” is how Spade and her partners decided best describes the collection. Although the brand is reminiscent of the Kate Spade collection, everything is produced in Spain and Italy, where Venturi is based, putting the price points slightly higher than the Kate Spade brand. According to WWD, flat mary jane espadrilles are $275; snakeskin sandals with a chunky jewel-shaped heel are $625. “I feel like the shapes are very sculptural,” said Kate
5. The Fate of Spade’s Newest Fashion Company is Unclear After News of Her Death Spread
The fate of Frances Valentine is currently unknown after news of Spade’s untimely death spread Tuesday afternoon. The Frances Valentine website has been down throughout the day since news of her death broke.
Spade was found dead in her home of an apparent suicide at the age of 55. News of the famous designer’s death started circulating the morning of June 5 after reports that Spade hanged herself with a scarf in the $6.2 million Manhattan apartment she shared with her husband and daughter broke early Tuesday.
Spade reportedly left a suicide note in which she told her daughter that her death wasn’t the teen’s fault. TMZ reported that the note read, “Bea – I have always loved you. This is not your fault. Ask Daddy!” The note was found on the bed close to her body.
The Kate Spade Company said in a statement, “We at Kate Spade New York just learned of the incredibly sad news that Kate Spade has passed. Although Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand. Kate will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”