Nicola Glass’s Vision For Kate Spade New York

Nicola Glass’s Vision For Kate Spade New York

The newly appointed creative director opens up about fulfilling the late founder’s legacy.
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Nicola Glass and Mughni Che Din

Spring/Summer ’19 marked many significant firsts for Kate Spade New York. Not only was its collection presented following the untimely death of the brand’s legendary founder last June, it was also the first collection presented under the brand’s newly appointed creative director Nicola Glass.

Instead of leading the brand in a different direction, as many freshly elected designers do, Glass refined the house’s existing codes of playful femininity, relatability, and accessibility, and revolutionised them in her own unique way. After all, this is a woman with an impressive résumé that includes accessory designing stints at Gucci and Michael Kors prior to taking over the creative helm at Kate Spade New York. For her debut collection, if it didn’t spark joy, Glass got rid of it.

Set against a bubblegum-pink background in the New York Public Library, the Spring/Summer ’19 show was steeped in the house’s signatures, like the spade-shaped logo that was innovatively incorporated in her line-up. Retro florals in hot pinks, butter yellows, and pale lilacs appeared on silky satin dresses, complete with pouf sleeves and high necklines, and exuded a cool ’40s-meets-’70s vibe. Also included in the collection was a range of trench coats that added playful urban touches to the mix.

The day after the show, while seated in her newly redecorated office in Manhattan, Glass noted to BAZAAR that she wanted her first collection at Kate Spade New York to “feel familiar, as well as completely new”. She went on to discuss her vision for the brand …

“She left a little sparkle everywhere she went.” How did this resonate with you?

You probably saw the tribute card we made to Kate [Spade, the founder] on everyone’s chair. This was something that kept resonating especially after she had passed away. A lot of people were talking about how she left a little sparkle wherever she went. It was also a personal reference for me; it was the start of my journey with the brand.

What is the message behind your first collection here?

Kate Spade New York stands for optimistic femininity, and it has always been a brand that encourages its customers to embrace individuality. With this first collection, my aim was to create new products that our existing customers would find exciting, as well as attract new customers and re-establish the affinity that some might have for the brand.

Tell us about your inspiration for this Spring/Summer collection.

I was inspired by a lot of archival photography, particularly ad campaigns by Tim Walker. There were some amazing images that truly captured this spirited, confident woman that the brand is really about. Kate herself was someone who encouraged women to experiment with fashion and express their individuality. I really wanted to bring a sense of fluidity, so I diversified the silhouette in dresses so that there were a lot more options for women to express their femininity.

In the midst of it all, how do you maintain Kate Spade New York’s DNA?

It’s about looking at some key elements and making sure that we maintain those. For example, the brand has always been known for its colour. Over the years, with the phrase “live colourfully”, colour has always been something that has resonated. I wanted to maintain the notion of the brand being very colourful, but to do it in a new way. For me, it was working with more unexpected colour mixes and more nuances to the colours.

What did you love most about this collection?

One of my favourite looks from the show was the lilac dress with the lilac boots or the bright yellow one. It’s a beautiful classic boot with an unexpected twist of colour. Another element was the print line. I really worked to try and establish a new print line, like taking a flower and doing more in an unexpected way. We really worked on having hidden details, too. The last look had a long dress with a beautiful flower. If you look closely, there is a lip and a heart in the centre of the flower. I love this idea of intimacy, that you have to be up close to see it.

Will you continue to produce novelty products for Kate Spade New York?

Absolutely. When I came in with this collection, I felt that some of the novelty in the past had become too literal and obvious. Because of this, there are some customers who get turned away from the brand, while there were some who were attracted. I want to make it more subtle, so that there is more of an element of discovery to it. An example is a yellow dress from the show—only if you look at it up close can you see that the print has been made from little matchsticks. The zip puller is also a matchstick. When we do novelty pieces, I want it to feel unique to our brand.

With your creative direction, what can we expect from Kate Spade New York?

The brand has grown immensely over the past 25 years. Literally, a woman launching a brand from her apartment and a handbag line. Today, it is a global lifestyle brand that has 30 different product categories between ready-to-wear, handbags, footwear, fragrance, athleisure, and homeware. It’s really quite extensive, what we do. For now, I am not looking to expand into new product categories. Instead, I want to explore the possibilities within the ones that already exist.

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A multitude of florals for Spring? Possibly groundbreaking

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