Name Game

The Frances Valentine partners (clockwise from left): Kate Valentine,  Paola Venturi, Elyce Arons, Andy Spade.
The Frances Valentine partners (clockwise from left): Kate Valentine, Paola Venturi, Elyce Arons, Andy Spade.

K.C.-born fashion designer Kate Spade, er, Kate Valentine is back with a new collection.

Growing up in Kansas City, she was known as Katherine Brosnahan. She first made a name for herself in the fashion world in the early 1990s when she and her husband, Andy Spade, founded high-end women’s accessories brand Kate Spade New York. When the couple sold the company to Liz Claiborne Inc. in 2012, the rights to that famous moniker were part of the deal. After a legal name change, the St. Theresa’s Academy grad now goes by Kate Valentine. One thing hasn’t changed though: her impeccable taste. To devotees of her classic-with-a-hint-of-quirky style, she’ll always be simply “Kate”—and she’s back with a new women’s accessories line, Frances Valentine, available at Halls on Grand.

What was the inspiration behind the name Frances Valentine?

Frances is a family name from my father’s side, and Valentine is a family name from my mother’s side. We wanted to be sure the name had a personal connection and that it was not a name that we pulled out of thin air.

How would you describe the style?

It is really based on intuition. It’s a feeling for things I love, as opposed to an overriding theme. I really design based on moods, and I pay great attention to details that have to be interesting but also have a reason for being.

Who is the Frances Valentine customer?

We’ll find out—ha ha! But, I would guess that she’s someone who has a great interest in personal style, as opposed to disposable trends. I’m an emotional shopper, even when it comes to basics. Something has to say “I have to have this.”

Did growing up in Kansas City influence your style and business sensibility?

Growing up in K.C. absolutely influenced my sense of style and my approach to business. In terms of style, I believe it gave me the basis for not buying into fleeting trends. When I buy things, I tend to continue to wear them on and off forever, which does not mean these items lack personality. I don’t have a whole lot of “what was I thinking” purchases. Well, maybe a couple. I also feel that my Midwestern values keep my feet (shoes!) firmly planted on the ground.

Do you make it back to Kansas City often? Where do you like to go when you do?

I try to go at least two to three times a year. The Nelson Art Gallery is a must, and I do my best to get there whenever I can. For restaurants, I love Winsteads, Café Provence, Andre’s and Ponak’s Mexican. The Plaza lighting at Thanksgiving is a tradition, and I adore walking my dog and family’s dogs through Loose Park. And the trip wouldn’t be complete without a shopping visit to Halls with my sister and stepmother.