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Andrea Cheng
Feb 26, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

Kate Spade, the designer, shouldn't be confused with Kate Spade New York, the brand. She was once the woman behind her eponymous line, but she and her husband Andy (along with their third co-founder Elyce Arons and design director Paola Venturi) split in 2007. Cut to present day, and the designer (along with the old gang) is ready to throw herself back into work—with a brand new accessories line: Frances Valentine.

Her biggest hurdle right off the bat was, obviously, the challenge of differentiating her as a person and her namesake line, which meant, a name change was in order. "I added Valentine—it's my grandfather's middle name because he was born on Valentine's Day, and it's my daughter's middle name," she says. "I wasn't trying to be kitschy. It's really about trying to make a conscious effort to distinguish the two companies for the customer."

The name "Frances" carries weight, too. She comes from a long line of Frances's—it's her father's, her brother's, her grandfather's, and her daughter's name. "I wanted to make this brand personal," she says. "The first time around, it was my first name with my husband's last name, and now, we're reaching out to family."

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When it comes to design, Spade is adamant about delivering pieces that you can't find anywhere else. "I definitely went into this not wanting to repeat what I've done or what's being done through my namesake," she says. "I respect what they're doing and what I did then, but it's important that there's a distinction and that you can feel it."

Still, you can't help but notice the similarities, like bows perched atop flats and stripes lined at the soles (two hallmarks of Kate Spade New York's aesthetic). Yet, there are already signs of Frances Valentine trademarks starting to emerge, like the perfectly imperfect dome heel (that Venturi designed with her eyes closed) and the darling pointy-toe sling-back flats that Spade is convinced will be forever part of the brand's DNA, reincarnated every which way, season after season.

"I didn't want to do anything too basic or conservative, and I'm not interested in fleeting trends," she continues. "I was looking for something modern, architectural, and sophisticated, but with a personality to it without bordering on silly."

The first wave of Frances Valentine accessories (which range from $300 to $700) has already hit shelves at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, and as of today, the entire collection is available online now at francesvalentine.com. For now, Frances Valentine only stocks bags and shoes, but will there ever be a ready-to-wear collection?

"Not right now," Spade says, truthfully. "I tend to move at a molasses pace, and I want to make sure we're firmly planted in the collection before we start moving into other categories."

Keep scrolling to take a look at the campaign and then head on over to francesvalentine.com to start shopping.

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