We Went to Kate Spade New York’s Studio to Meet Creative Director Nicola Glass

October 25, 2019

At its core, Kate Spade New York has always been a brand that stood for optimistic femininity. What grew from the eponymous founder’s desire to create the perfect handbag, has now become one of the industry’s most recognizable brands—offering over 30 categories, from ready-to-wear to stationery. We sat down with the newly appointed creative director, Nicola Glass, to chat about her role in ushering Kate Spade into a new era, and to get a sneak peek at the fall collection. 

How did the world of Kate Spade New York inspire your own spin on designing for the brand?

I have always been attracted to the brand’s DNA – the modern use of color and sophistication of the thinking around the design. Kate Spade New York as a brand has always been very optimistic and joyful – appealing to a broad range of women. My goal when designing collections is to create pieces that both our current customers, new customers, and hopefully the original Kate Spade New York customers, would find extremely covetable. Ultimately, my intention is to bring the brand forward – creating modern and iconic products – while establishing consistencies and core elements across categories that we can build upon season after season.

What excites you about being at the creative helm of Kate Spade New York?

Nicola Glass

The opportunity to be creative director is the main reason I took this job.  I was excited to lean on my design background, and utilize the skills I’ve developed along the way. I was very fortunate to inherit teams across categories that really embraced my vision from the beginning. My previous experience was rooted in handbag and jewelry design, but I was also extremely excited to explore new categories, including ready-to-wear and footwear, and even home. I see great opportunity to examine and refine the existing codes of the house and to create new ones. I continue to look to the brand’s origins – the use of color and print – and evolve it.  Our brand promise is optimistic femininity, which to me means empowered confidence with an easy, sunny sensibility.

Now, let’s talk about the Fall collection on RTR. What was the inspiration behind it?

When I first approached fall, I started by imagining raiding an insanely glamorous woman’s closet, and the rich, eclectic mix you’d find that you could make your own. I was inspired by the thought of where clothes end up rather than where they originated. I envisioned women who are looking for clothes that are spirited, feminine and fundamentally effortless. I was particularly inspired by Biba designer Barbara Hulanicki. The glamour of Barbara’s store, the richness of the fabrics and products, even the decadence of the details in the dressing rooms were all incredibly inspirational. 

Describe the collection in 5 words or less:

An explosion of animal prints.

Which pieces are most rent-worthy, and why?

I love the Romy Handbag – in the everyday medium satchel style or the fun patent mini top handle – it is the perfect mix of functionality and style. I incorporated our signature twistlock hardware on the front closure, which was one of the first things I ever designed for the brand! I also really love the shirtdresses in both the mini and midi lengths this season, especially the Panthera Shirtdress, which is a bright pink leopard mini dress, and the Deco Bloom Crepe Shirtdress, a moody unexpected floral in a chic midi length. Shirtdresses are such great pieces that can be easily layered and accessorized in endless ways, and can transition easily from day to night.

Give us your bio in one sentence:

My background is in jewelry and accessories design, and prior to joining Kate Spade New York, I worked at Gucci as a handbag and accessories designer and then moved to Michael Kors to design handbags.

What’s your typical morning routine?

During the school year, I’m always up early to get my seven-year-old son, Flynn, ready for school. We walk together to his bus stop and normally grab a quick breakfast at a café while we wait for his bus. I work out two mornings per week with a trainer, which helps set me in a good headspace for the day. Once I get to the office, every day is different.  My day could involve meetings with the design teams to review concepts or first round pro-types.  I also have meetings with the creative team to review the seasonal campaigns or upcoming events.  As creative director, I oversee every area of the business so I meet with almost every team in our office. It’s very exciting to touch each facet of the Kate Spade New York world.

How do you get into the creative zone?

I gather inspiration in so many ways – from traveling and architecture to vintage furniture and art. I am continually inspired by the world around me which could lead to the next design or print or a new type of fabric. 

The favorite part of your day is…

The evenings that I’m home to read to my son before his bedtime. I often fall asleep in his bunk bed and find myself waking up a few hours later! Some nights I attend events after work, but I always make sure that I am not out two evenings in a row so that I have time with my family.


What’s your go-to work outfit?

My uniform has changed over the years, as I usually wear the brand I’m designing for. My style has always been feminine with a bit of an edge.  If I’m wearing a soft, feminine dress, I will add a studded belt and I always wear a stack of bracelets and rings. I’ve also been wearing a lot more color since joining Kate Spade New York!

Any latest reads, podcasts, or shows inspiring you?

I just finished a wonderful book by Madeline Miller called Circe. It’s a feminist retelling of a classic Greek mythology story. It was really engrossing.

When the day’s over, how do you unwind?

At the moment, I’m introducing my son to classic movies from the ’80s – Back to the Future and The Karate Kid are two current favorites!