Going into Kate Spade New York's Spring 2019 show during New York Fashion Week, guests anticipated some surprises. It would be the brand's first collection under its new creative director, Nicola Glass. Plus, this would mark its first show since the passing of its founder, Kate Valentine Spade, in June. Though the designer hadn't been involved with the company that bears her name since 2007, Kate Spade New York planned a subtle but poignant tribute to her as it offered a glimpse at Glass' colorful, optimistic vision for the brand's future.
All along the pink-carpeted runway, a thick trail of silver glitter wove down the runway and between the seats. "There was one phrase [about Spade] that kept resonating, which was 'she leaves a little bit of sparkle everywhere she went,'" Glass tells Glamour backstage. So she decided to incorporate literal sparkle in her first-ever show, a path representing the journey Kate Spade New York has taken in its 25-year history, from one woman creating bags in her Soho living room to becoming a worldwide brand.
"It’s almost like a road," she continues. "Personally, for me, it was metaphorically looking backwards at the origins of the brand."
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Though Kate Spade New York has hosted presentations during New York Fashion Week in past seasons, Glass decided this was "the right moment to switch to a show." Though, she adds, "we wanted to keep it quite intimate. There’s a lot of detail in the clothes that I think from afar you don’t quite see like when you’re up close."
For her first collection as creative director, Glass reverted to the bright colors and splashy prints that distinguished Kate Spade New York in its founding days. "I was really inspired by going back to the very beginning and looking at the core DNA of the brand," she explains.
The designer also revived one of Kate Spade New York's classic emblems, the spade: A capsule "preview" of the spring collection was released online in tandem with the show, featuring twelve new products—nine handbag styles and three scarves—each incorporating the spade in some fashion.
On the runway, the spade reappeared in clasps on the bags or as spade-shaped petals within a flower. "I think it’s such a great element, because so many brands look for a symbol," Glass says. "So I really looked at modernizing it and using it in [ways] we called 'secret spades' as well as 'spade-tastic', where it could be hidden in a devoré silk dress, or more overt in, for example, a handbag."
The first bag designed for the collection gestures at the new creative director: Called the Nicola, it features a twisting enamel fasten that, locked, looks like a heart; then, when twisted to open the bag, becomes a spade.
While Glass sets out to put her own stamp on the iconic brand, she promises that its founder's vision will not be forgotten with time. In fact, Spade had been on Glass' mind when she began designing her collection. "By the time Kate passed away, the line had already been designed, and I didn’t feel a need to change direction, because I felt like I’d already been inspired by her," she says.
Indeed, Spade's memory lives on in the very symbol that references her name—and the brand's—throughout the new collection. The show notes stated it best: Kate Spade New York's next chapter is "a journey that starts at the beginning to form new paths."
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