There are big corporate changes happening at Kate Spade New York. Once part of a stable of brands most recently operated under the moniker Fifth & Pacific, it was announced last month that F&P would sell off what remained of the other properties and change its name to Kate Spade.
That means creative director Deborah Lloyd, who has grown KSNY from a niche label of well-made box bags into a retro-minded lifestyle brand that includes a ready-to-wear line, tech gear, housewares, and a flourishing fragrance program, is in the hot seat. But if there's added pressure, Lloyd wasn't showing it. Instead, she presented a collection that stayed true to the brand she's created, nudging it ahead ever so slightly.
"I travel so much, but even when it's for work, I really try to enjoy the places I'm visiting," Lloyd said as an introduction to Fall. This past year has included many trips to Asia, particularly Shanghai and Tokyo, and she was thinking about the bullet trains that connect Japan's cities. "I like the juxtaposition of the old-world quality of riding in a train car with the fact that it can get you somewhere in an hour or so," she said.
The Tokyo vignette was the purest representation of what Kate Spade New York has become: all color and mod, graphic elements. A bright floral strapless cocktail dress in an A-line seamed shape got a party-girl upgrade with a jazzy black bow at the bust. Other models were covered up in vibrantly hued topper coats. A cobalt blue, rounded-shoulder version was worn with a pair of Kelly green trousers and high, pointy white pumps.
In Shanghai, the look was more subdued—a camel "teddy bear" skirt with a flat bow at the waist read unexpectedly elegant, as did a pair of cropped pink slacks. Lloyd incorporated Chinese red into a few looks, the most notable being a collared cape coat, blouse, leather gloves, and trousers, paired with leopard loafers. The last group was inspired by elegant travel attire, so it made sense to see that a pair of black silk pajamas was topped with a feather chubby.
In all, the silhouette was more relaxed than is typical with KSNY. The backlash to all things twee is underway, and Lloyd seems to understand that, without feeling obliged to abandon the vintage-inspired codes she has worked hard to create. "The goal is to move our girl forward," she said. Just not too far.