Kate Spade's real name was never Kate Spade

JOE SCHILDHORN/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesKate Spade
  • Kate Spade became divorced from her namesake brand when she sold it to Neiman Marcus in 2006.
  • She created a new brand called Frances Valentine in 2016, after taking time off to raise her daughter and pursue philanthropy.
  • But her name was never legally Kate Spade. The brand name was created as a combination of her first name and the last name of her husband, Andy Spade, before they were married.
  • She also later decided to change her name to Kate Valentine, though her full legal name was Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan.

For Kate Spade, name was everything.

The late fashion designer and icon, who was found dead on Tuesday, hadn’t been connected to her namesake brand since she sold it to Neiman Marcus in 2006.

Kate Spade was never legally named Kate Spade, however. She never changed her name when she married Andy Spade in 1994, according to the Wall Street Journal. Kate Spade, the brand, was actually just a combination of her first name and Andy’s last name.

Over time, it came to be synonymous with the person, even after she no longer had any control over the Kate Spade brand. Kate later created a new brand, called Frances Valentine, that launched its first collection in 2016.

“Frances is a longtime family name on my dad’s side,” she told Women’s Wear Daily in a 2015 interview. “My grandfather, father, brother and my daughter’s name is Frances. And then Valentine was my mum’s dad’s middle name because he was born on Valentine’s Day.”

But it was more than just a connection to family. It was a whole new identity for Kate, who came to be known as Kate Valentine in an attempt to separate herself from the brand that carried the moniker she was still widely known by.

“It kind of makes [me] sound kind of cool, like a rap star or something,” she told Business of Fashion in 2016. “But we’re not trying to be cheeky or coy. It really was to distinguish the name, and separate the two worlds. Obviously we’re super proud of Kate Spade and we want to be respective of both.”

But Kate Valentine wasn’t her legal name either. Her real, legal name, as she told the Wall Street Journal in 2016, was Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan. It’s no surprise she didn’t try and print that on a handbag.

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Remembering Kate Spade:

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