Meet the Fashion Powerhouse of Kate Spade New York
“She believes every piece tells a story,” reads the final page of Kate Spade New York’s new home collection lookbook, referring to the brand’s target customer, a modern woman with an adventurous spirit and a playful, feminine sense of style. The same can be said about President and Chief Creative Officer Deborah Lloyd, whose work with big-name brands such as Burberry and Banana Republic landed her the high-profile position after Kate Spade left the company in 2007. Since taking the reins, Lloyd has introduced a wide variety of new pieces to the Kate Spade New York family, which once revolved solely around accessories. Her most recent endeavor—a home décor line featuring chairs, desks, pendant lights, and rugs—is an extension of the brand’s signature girlish-chic style, and the next chapter in the Kate Spade New York story.
We sat down with Lloyd to talk about the new collection, her two peacocks, Electra and Cleopatra, and her distaste for American chocolate.
Deco Dot Comforter Set in Platinum, $130-$230; Drake Slipper Chair in Azalea, $2,870; Downing Mini Chest, $2,240; Elsie Table Lamp, $485; Leopard Ikat Rug in Licorice, $700-$2,075; Georgia Bench, $3,400
Double Border Rug in Black, $700-$2,075
Who or what influenced you to become involved in fashion and design?
It started at an early age. I lived in the middle of the countryside; I wasn’t surrounded by anything having to do with fashion. And I had the most exotic aunt who was a model in the ’60s. She would turn up at the house wearing the most incredible outfits from her travels. I remember looking at her and going, “This is absolutely magical.” I think she’s the one who inspired me to look further than just the little village I lived in. I realized there was a big world out there, and I wanted to be part of it.
Drake Tufted Sofa in Pale Aqua linen, 94" W x 35" H, $5,950
How would you describe your personal style as a teen growing up in England?
I was a little eclectic when I was younger. I loved mixing and matching (which is right on trend at the moment), like putting a tartan kilt with a floral shirt. I used to collect vintage clothes and customize them. Before I could afford anything designer, I would put things together and sort of make my own look from that. And then I got interested in fashion.
Ellery Sconce in Black with brass bow, $380
Woodgrain Rug in Ballet Pink, $700-$2,075
What drew you to Kate Spade New York?
I was at the point in my career where I wanted to do something different. I wanted a challenge. I started as a menswear designer, and then I was a womenswear designer. When I got the call from Kate Spade, it was like, “Wow, accessories. How fabulous.” What I liked about the opportunity was that I could take this known brand with so much personality from handbags to a real lifestyle brand. Launching a gorgeous furniture collection has been icing on the cake.
Downing Mini Chest in Cream/Onyx with polished brass hardware, 27" W x 26.25" H, $2,240
How has the brand changed since you took the reins in 2007?
There was an incredible DNA that Kate and her husband, Andy, gave to the brand. What I’ve done with my team since being here has been to amplify that DNA, taking that message and voice from being just about handbags to a global and lifestyle brand.
It’s amazing that now “our girl” accepts us and brings our furniture and décor into her house, as well as our handbags, our shoes, our jewelry. It also connects to women of all ages. I think it’s capturing the imagination of young women, from 15 to a 23-year-old supermodel like Karlie Kloss to Iris Apfel, who is in her nineties.
Norwich Chair in Black with Ivory piping, 31" W x 32.5" H, $2,485
Tell me about the new Kate Spade New York home collection.
It is our first home collection in terms of furniture, lighting, and rugs. We will also have wallpapers and fabrics coming out soon. It’s definitely got a midcentury feel to it. It’s got beautiful, noble, raw materials, but there’s always a Kate Spade feminine twist. We punch up the classic pieces with an unexpected color like a fuchsia pink or a beautiful aqua or a Kate Spade green.
Downing Desk in Black/White, $3,095; Pavillion Dot Cylinder Table Lamp, $570; Georgia Chair in Turquoise, also available in Heather Grey and Black/White, $1,675
What are the standout pieces from that collection?
Well, the ones I’ve ordered for myself are the Downing desk—that one makes me smile every time I see it. I love the Georgia credenza because it matches my floors. I love its burl wood, glass top, and all its little brass details. The pendant lamps, especially the ones with the crystals and the pearls [Dickinson large pendant, at right] are very girly. I love being able to put up a cluster of three on a ceiling instead of just one. It’s almost like a sculpture. And then I love our rugs. I love the Double Border rug, the classicism of a graphic bordered rug that frames every room beautifully.
Neale Table Lamp with Cream/Black ceramic base, 33.8” H, $570
When you hit a creative roadblock, what do you do?
I leave the office. If I need a quick fix and I’m in the city, I’ll go to the flower district. Whether it’s seeing all the colors of the flowers or the stores with all the ribbons, it’s just a great escape. If it’s springtime I’ll go to the Conservatory Gardens. Or if it’s raining or a bit cold, I’ll go to a museum. Seeing something completely different just refreshes your brain and makes you think about things differently.
Dickinson Large Pendant made with crystals, pearls, and brass, $2,730
Who inspires you?
Strong, interesting women inspire me. I think every woman has a story to tell, and I love hearing that story.
Georgia Chair in Turquoise, also available in Heather Grey and Black/White, $1,675
How would you describe your home’s design aesthetic?
My townhouse in Brooklyn is classic midcentury with a twist. There’s definitely a lot of storytelling in there, and each floor has its own flavor. I have a modern kitchen but with the twist of the animals. I collect Banksy, so there are Banksy rats on the kitchen walls. My library is like a portrait gallery, with pictures of everyone from Hemingway to the queen to Mickey Mouse. My parlor floor has more of an African spirit: I collect a lot of photographs by Peter Beard and Nick Brandt, who are wildlife photographers. I have zebra-striped chairs and two former peacocks [now stuffed], Electra and Cleopatra.
Tea Kettle in Turquoise $50
What’s a “guilty pleasure” item you have in your home or closet?
A pair of sheepskin moccasin slippers. They’re just like friends—they’re comfortable, they don’t talk back, and they’re great after a long day at work.
Elsie Table Lamp in Turquoise, also available in Cream and Blush, 24.25" H, $485
Do you collect anything—shoes, handbags, jewelry, etc.?
All of the above, and far too many. Working for Kate Spade, it’s just endless. You go, “Well, this one’s lovely too.” It’d be rude not to collect them.
Mabel Heels, $350
You’ve lived in America for 15 years now. In what ways are you still British at heart?
There has to be tea at 3 in the afternoon—and it’s not in a diner mug; it has to be bone china. Tea does not taste the same unless it’s served in a porcelain cup and made in a teapot. Also, English chocolate. I just can’t eat American chocolate; it’s too gritty. The chocolate has to be imported from