It’s minus 11 and I don’t mean the temperature in New York City. Yes, it’s cold outside but the heat is pointed directly at Nicola Glass who is about to present her sophomore collection for Kate Spade. Just one day prior, Tapestry Inc. — the parent company of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman — reported fiscal second-quarter results and saw Kate Spade same-store sales down 11%. The softness “reflected a lack of distinctive newness in the final season from the brand’s previous design team,” said Tapestry’s Chief Executive Victor Luis on the earnings call, according to a FactSet transcript. This is of course product that hit shelves before Glass took the reigns as the new Creative Director for the brand.
Held at the iconic Cipriani restaurant in Wall Street, the juxtaposition of pink carpets, and fluffy cushions on clear stools against the cold marble columns hinted at the collection about to walk. Kate Spade executives sat front row, probably to read the room more than to get a close up of the collection they’d undoubtedly seen before.
As the crowd gathered and collected their seats, there was no music. Instead, the pre-show entertainment was Flynn Glass, Nicola’s 6 year old son. Dressed in a blue and white striped shirt with a peach tie, he played with a purple-haired unicorn pony. Potentially the talisman for his mother’s impending runway.
The lights dimmed, in stages, until finally, and commandingly, Dee-Lite’s What is Love saw the first look impress the soft pink carpet. It became immediately obvious that Glass’ new house code is a clean slate. She has wasted no time in the brand narrative that is driving said “distinctive newness”, but with a firm retail mindset. Novelty has been replaced with an eclectic elegance of separates. Sophisticated collar work anchors a fluid silk dress in mustard. The knee-high boots of SS19 have been lowered a touch, and laced all the way down. And of course there are two bags. Worn at once. I’m sold.
Glass presented more subdued colourways to the brightness the brand is traditionally known for, with rich tones evident in a palette of cherrywood and tree green with dots of coral pink. The Kate Spade dresses that twirl are no more. Instead, a sophisticated set of silhouettes from an “insanely glamorous woman’s wardrobe” – to quote Glass – exuded rich femininity. Languid patterns and playful accessories gave a nod to the eclectic and girlie fun that is synonymous with the brand. The quirkiness was dialled back in favour of vintage-inspired shapes. Read: high-waisted flares, deep-hued corduroy suits and peep-toe platform heels that will no doubt do very well at retail.
Glass’ unique language cannot come at a better time. The soft and polished glamour may not be a style we are accustomed to from Kate Spade, but with every look fully accessorised how could I possibly resist?
The forecast for Kate? Plus 8.
Watch the runway show below.