Kate Spade New York can be counted on for delivering ladylike sophistication with a playful touch of whimsy. It's why the brand has attracted a sizable celebrity fanbase for as long as we can remember ("Classic and wearable—two things I look for in everyday clothes," Kate Bosworth says of the brand's offerings. "[The brand] makes very chic, very upbeat clothing that's aspirational and accessible," echoes Ellie Kemper, backstage.").
But for fall/winter 2016, Kate Spade New York has veered off from its usual happy preptastic aesthetic that's always been such a large part of the brand's DNA. Though that's not to say its signature whimsy was completely missing (plenty of it can still be found in cute novelty clutches and bejeweled flourishes), but there was more of a geeky-chic, arty intellectual vibe that has currently consumed the fashion industry (we have Alessandro Michele of Gucci to thank for that).
Deborah Lloyd, the chief creative officer of Kate Spade New York, drew inspiration from the essence of "sirens, divas, and creative firebirds of the stage," calling out Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sade, and Liza Minelli specifically as her muses. "These are pieces that are diva-esque and pretty that these songstresses would wear, not for when they’re performing on stage, but for life," she explains. "It's the style evolution from geeky-chic music student to glam girls. It's quite an eclectic mix, but they're all strong women, strong performers."
Tie-neck blouses cut from airy chiffon, teeny florals spinkled all over demure skirts, and clashing heavy tweeds and plaids all speak to that statement-making drama, but with a dash of theater-geek quirk.
And for a collection that's so heavily influenced by music, it made sense that it was staged in the iconic Rainbow Room overlooking all of Manhattan, with each model in a circle atop a rotating turntable. "We're a New York brand and we wanted an iconic New York venue," Lloyd says. "What better place to put our girls in?"
For Bosworth, the Rainbow Room holds more meaning than the venue of a New York Fashion Week show. "My dad used to take me here when I was little," she reminisces. "So it's a neat opportunity to be back here for the Kate Spade presentation. It's nostalgic."