Democracy Dies in Darkness

Arts and Entertainment | Review

The Kate Spade brand endures, in the bright, sparkly spirit of its founder. And yes, there are handbags.

By Robin Givhan

September 8, 2018 at 2:22 PM

Designer Nicola Glass, in white, takes a bow after her debut at Kate Spade. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — The runway at the Kate Spade show Friday morning at the New York Public Library was lined with silver glitter, and a bright pink note card left at each seat read “She left a little sparkle everywhere she went.” The gestures signified both a look back and a step forward for the fashion company and its new creative director Nicola Glass.

Its namesake had not been involved with the brand for the decade-plus since she and her husband Andy sold it. But after Spade’s death from suicide in June, the brand and the woman were linked in a cultural conversation about how both — at least publicly — represented a welcoming, feminine, joyful and self-confident approach to fashion.

[Robin Givhan at New York Fashion Week: full coverage]

Glass, who previously worked at Gucci and Michael Kors, has the mission of making sure the brand does not lose its good cheer. She took on her current position in January and started this collection by looking through the brand’s archives and the key elements that have always defined it.

The result is a collection of pink and green prints along with a palette of butterscotch and raspberry — and dresses, dresses and dresses. In keeping with the brand’s signature product, there were also a host of functional and colorful bags.

Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
NEW YORK, NY – Sept 7: Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Photo by Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo For The Washington Post)

“There was a purity to the design approach that appealed to me as well as the spirit of the women in the old ad campaigns,” Glass said during an interview backstage after the show. “Kate always encouraged women to embrace fashion and feel free to interpret it in their own way.”

[Kate Spade’s aesthetic was the happy answer to fashion snobbery]

The collection was finished by the time of Spade’s death, but “I really took a moment to reflect,” Glass said. “I didn’t feel the need to change course because I had been inspired by her from the beginning.” But Glass took note of all the tributes to her and was moved by the repeated references to Spade’s sparkling, fizzy personality.

Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)
Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

Glass referenced that description with the seating cards as well as “the glitter line marking the path the models took,” she says. “Metaphorically, for me, it was the idea that I’ve started a journey with this brand, but before I can move forward, I need to look back.”

Glass was, of course, wearing a dress.

Kate Spade Spring Summer 2019 Collection. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

EARLIER at New York Fashion Week:

Beautiful fashion for real people — and Sies Marjan makes it look easy

These high-fashion sneakers weren’t cute. They weren’t clever. They were just ugly.

‘Stop calling 911 on the culture’: The powerful message Pyer Moss took to the fashion runway

Ralph Lauren’s sumptuous 50th anniversary show was the great American dream merchant at his finest

Everyone laughed at Thom Browne’s short pants. Now they’ve made him very rich.


Robin Givhan is a staff writer and The Washington Post's fashion critic, covering fashion as a business, as a cultural institution and as pure pleasure. A 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism, Givhan has also worked at Newsweek/Daily Beast, Vogue magazine and the Detroit Free Press.

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Arts and Entertainment | Review

The Kate Spade brand endures, in the bright, sparkly spirit of its founder. And yes, there are handbags.

By Robin Givhan

September 8, 2018 at 2:22 PM

Designer Nicola Glass, in white, takes a bow after her debut at Kate Spade. (Jonas Gustavsson/MCV Photo for The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — The runway at the Kate Spade show Friday morning at the New York Public Library was lined with silver glitter, and a bright pink note card left at each seat read “She left a little sparkle everywhere she went.” The gestures signified both a look back and a step forward for the fashion company and its new creative director Nicola Glass.

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