Kate Spade’s vision is alive on Madison Avenue.
The late designer’s accessories brand, Frances Valentine, opened a pop-up shop on 793 Madison Avenue in New York last night, where friends of the brand gathered uptown on a snowy evening to get a sneak peek of the new store filled with Spade’s designs for Frances Valentine. The night was particularly meaningful, as it marked a major moving-forward milestone for the company since Spade’s tragic death by suicide in June 2018 at the age of 55.
“She would have loved it,” CEO Elyce Arons, who is a partner in the brand and had known Spade since they were college freshmen, told PEOPLE of how Spade would have reacted to seeing the Madison Avenue pop-up.
“She would really love that it’s snowing—it’s so fitting,” Arons continued. “When it started snowing a few hours ago, we just all stopped and said ‘Kate is here, this is her.’ She was a winter kid. Her birthday is Christmas Eve.”
Seeing a store open would have been a dream for Spade, who launched the company in 2016, a decade after she sold her namesake label Kate Spade New York.
“I think about her in every decision we make in the company,” Arons said. “I’m probably more critical now than I ever was, I just feel like it’s for her. After we were done setting up [the store] on the first day, we had everything in place, and I walked out the door and the first thing I wanted to do was to call Kate and I couldn’t.”
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The opening is a big moment for Arons, who faced the decision of whether or not to carry on with Frances Valentine after Spade’s death.
“That first week [after her death], my head was just with her family. I was at the apartment the whole week,” Arons said. “I don’t think we ever thought about stopping. We thought, [continue] in her honor. It wasn’t a choice. What were we going to do, just stop? She wouldn’t have wanted that.”
Now, Arons’ goal is to make sure Spade’s legacy of spreading joy through fashion continues.
“We have so much that we worked on together for so many years that I feel like the team—and the team we’ve put together from veterans from our old business, and new folks from here—they get it,” she said. “We all know the right pink, we all know the right green, we all know the right red that we want to get. As I said, we are all more critical than we ever were because Katy would be the person in the room saying, ‘That red isn’t right.’”
Added Arons, “She was a happy person. She really was.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).