Kate Spade‘s fashion empire and legacy extends beyond her namesake brand to Frances Valentine, the second accessories line founded by the late designer. Today (January 30) Frances Valentine announced that it is paying tribute to its cofounder with a deeply personal, joyful campaign starring a special member of Spade’s family.
Frances Valentine tapped Rachel Brosnahan, Spade’s niece and star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, to front a vibrant spring 2019 campaign honoring her aunt’s memory. Brosnahan appeared on the Today show alongside Frances Valentine CEO Elyce Arons to unveil the campaign and discuss her aunt’s lasting impact on fashion.
“When you lose someone you love very, very much, you spend a lot of time trying to think about how to keep their spirit alive,” Brosnahan said on Today. “In Katy’s case, there is so much of her left behind, and this was an opportunity for us to celebrate her life and her legacy and how much she meant not only to us, but to so many other people and the impact she’s had on the fashion industry.”
In the campaign, Brosnahan models Frances Valentine’s “modern vintage” bags and jewelry alongside outfits that are emblematic of her aunt’s well-known penchant for color. Pieces from the collection include leather bags in mustard yellow and red woven basket bags, oversize pendant earrings, and bow-adorned kitten heels.
“I have always loved Katy’s love of colors and accessories,” Brosnahan said in the brand’s look book. “She brightened up every room she walked into. She also loved classic shapes, but by mixing colors and patterns and adding funky accessories, her personality always shone through.”
When it was time to bring that personality to life in the new campaign, Arons told Glamour, Brosnahan was the perfect fit. “Asking Rachel to be in the campaign was very natural. She is part of Katy’s family and part of the Frances Valentine family,” she said. “It was very organic and easy. Rachel enthusiastically agreed to be in the spring campaign and we were over the moon.”
The campaign captures the sense of optimism and joy legions of shoppers found in Spade’s designs—and in the designer herself. “The spring FV collection reflects Katy’s love of color and modern shapes as well as her love of vintage prints,” Arons said. “Katy had a joyous nature and loved creating things that made people happy. [She] gave women permission to be themselves and to be original.”
Brosnahan remembers her aunt’s personality fondly and carries her memory into the campaign. “Katy led with an almost unparalleled kindness and generosity in both work and life, and firmly believed it was one of the keys to her success. She taught me a great deal about passion and drive but never at the expense of kindness,” she said. “She found joy in every corner of her life and work, and that’s something I will always carry with me.”
Brosnahan’s campaign follows special products that memorialize Kate Spade at Frances Valentine. Last fall the brand released the Kate bag, a boxy tote reminiscent of the Sam bag from Kate Spade New York, to honor its founder. At the time, Arons told Glamour that Frances Valentine would always be informed by Spade’s aesthetic. Spade, she said, “was someone who manifested her personality in every product, so there’s a lot of Katy in everything we do [at Frances Valentine].”
Now Spade lives on in her niece’s image. “Having Rachel as the face of the spring campaign would have made Katy smile,” says Arons.