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Kate's home pulls it together

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, November 3, 2003

Her bedding collection is signature Kate Spade in terms of color, attention to the most minute details and an essence of quality that influences everything from the dimensions of sheets, duvet covers and bed skirts to the stitching on ruffles.

"Graphic but not stark; lots of white accented with color," said the designer, whose debut in bedding hits retail floors next May. "I do love color and I break it up with white."

The designer showcased and commented on some of her home designs during a special reception and preview for key retailers during last week's tabletop market here.

Spade sees a distinct difference between designing for ready-to-wear and the home. "There's definitely a need for enduring quality — style and quality — and especially so in tabletop, she explained."

And while Spade's accessories and shoes are notable for strong color, "beds are a larger platform, and details are important. It's very difficult to balance," she explained. "I love lots of white with accents of black — graphic but not stark," she explained.

In terms of design, Spade is uncompromising. "I'm not irrational but if I compromise, it's a bad thing. It's a very edited collection," she said of the bedding.

Coming on the heels of tabletop and gifts via her licensed program at Lenox that launches at retail in January, is the 12-bed program with licensee Springs that affords customers an opportunity to use pieces from one bed with another.

Duvet covers are her top of bed favorite. "I like the flexibility of being able to change the bed's look," Spade related. "I had a spread made for myself, but it was too heavy and looked old-fashioned," she recalled. "I needed a fresher and more inviting look."

The former magazine editor started out — with her husband Andy Spade — in 1993 designing handbags that quickly became a consumer favorite. She branched into eyeglasses, shoes, paper products and beauty products.

The company also operates a series of small Kate Spade retail stores, and has expanded into Asia. In 1999, Neiman Marcus Group acquired a majority stake in the company, operating it within its Brand Development division.

The fledgling Kate Spade at Home collection of tabletop, gifts and bedding will be followed by bath. "I've already designed them, but I haven't seen the first round of designs back yet." At the soonest, she predicted, "bath wont be ready before fall." Table linens also are on her radar screen. "I would love to do a collection." The previously announced license with Scalamandre for decorative fabrics also is expected to debut in fall '04.

"We're thrilled with the program," said Tom O'Connor, executive vp at Springs, noting "it is so different from the things we're doing overall."

Unlike most bedding ensembles, Kate Spade beds are available in as many as five color combinations. Mercerized cotton sateen sheets are 310 count and 500 count.

Seacliff, which is offered in white on white, navy/white, light blue/white, black/white and taupe/white, features 310-count mercerized cotton sateen for the sheeting and bedskirt. Cotton canvas is used for the duvet and shams. A European sham with a gusset is a signature item across the collection, offering at once a retro and current feeling.

Another detailing highlight is faux mother of pearl closures on the duvet covers, double baratto stitching, and accent pillows using four animal motifs — elephants, zebras, giraffes, and camels.

Harbor Island features a unique detail, a concealed zipper down the center of the duvet cover, allowing easy removal of the duvet. Grosgrain trim highlights the duvet and the solid color sheety has an attached blue hem with green tape accents. The corners of shams are trimmed in the tape.

Canvas and white linen are combined in Gramercy Park, which is offered in green, taupe and pink as well as white on white. Noel features circles and squares in a jacquard cotton for the duvet, and a smaller version of the jacquard motif for the sheets.

Further, Lane features a scalloped flange edge with hem stitching and a baratto stitch accent.

Dimensions for the individual items are generous, with bedskirts at 17 inches, sheets 18 inches deep and pillow cases at 20 by 32 inches. Queen flats are 60 x 80 inches, flats are 95 by 96 inches.

Queen duvets are $280 and $500. The collection will be offered as open stock with special packaging that features a fuax gold zipper and graphics that focus on a room scene with graphics derived from the Kate Spade stationery.

Fixturing designed for the collection is a critical part of the program.

The collection will have a limited launch in May.

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