She said she’s no good at public speaking, but Kate Valentine is a people person.
At Halls on Grand in Crown Center, a party of fashionista fans surrounded her on Wednesday night. And there was Kate Valentine, formerly Kate Spade, the brilliant designer who created a billion dollar brand, standing around just like one of the girls. The event was the first official product introduction for her new brand, Frances Valentine.
Two young ladies stood in awe, drinks in hand, whispering about how fabulous she is. “She’s just so real,” one said to the other.
“I am honestly thrilled to be here,” Valentine told the crowd. “Coming home, I feel very flattered to have Halls and Kansas City as our launching pad. It’s much more comfortable to do it at home.”
The party wasn’t just about branding. It also served as a benefit for the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City. March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. In the past, Valentine’s raised over $200,000 for the organization in honor of her friend Amy Thompson, who died in 1989 after a three-year battle with a brain injury. Ten percent of purchases were donated to the organization.
Glamazons shopped the shoe section for bags and shoes. Valentine wore one of her favorite new designs, the FV Canvas tote ($225) with red patent leather top handles and a red patent leather Frances Valentine logo — a cheeky play on the traditional logo bags.
There’s a funky new freedom in Valentine’s design style. She’s playing with materials and silhouettes in new ways — the Bella ($475) isn’t typical. Its shoe sits on an octagonlike heel inspired by Buckminster Fuller’s omni-triangulated geodesic dome. Architectural sexiness happens.
“Maybe it comes with age,” Valentine said of her new edge. “Or maybe it comes from having done it before. There is a fear of the expectation but there’s also a freeing aspect. I’m not as nervous. I’m less hesitant and more willing to take risks. It’s more about the work and that stems from growing up in Kansas City. Waste not, want not. It’s sensibility but with flair.”
She might wear Chanel and Dior glam, but she’s still a down-home gal. When she heads back to New York on Friday she’s taking a couple of Winstead’s cheeseburgers with her. As it turns out there’s no taste like home.
From noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Kate Valentine will make an appearance in the Shoes for Her department at Halls on Grand, 2450 Grand Blvd., in Crown Center. All day on Thursday, shoppers who mention the Brain Injury Association will have 10 percent of their purchase donated to the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City.