Designer Crush: Deborah Lloyd, President + Chief Creative Officer of kate spade new york

1. You made a strategic move during your time at the Royal College of Art by specializing in menswear — can you explain the motivation behind that choice and how it’s served your career?

I chose to specialize in menswear at college – there were fewer people in this area so I really stood out as a woman. I went to work in Italy and France without speaking the language – I learned! I was happy to take on new challenges, you have to be confident and believe in yourself – and be decisive! For me, switching to women’s was a revelation! I love designing for women and love the whimsical femininity of what I do at kate spade new york. But, I have not forgotten tailoring roots – it makes for an interesting mix.   To this day, I still use the technical nuances I learned while working in menswear, and apply them to our collections.  

2. What was a big change that took place during your six-year run at Burberry to help resurrect and modernize the iconic brand?

When I first started at Burberry, it was a sleepy heritage brand that was ready for a refresh. I took the DNA and created a small capsule collection of what I felt were the key pieces to move the brand forward. I showed this to Rosemary Bravo, the new CEO at the time and, the rest is history!

During my time there, I wanted to push boundaries and bring a fresh direction to the brand.  One of the most memorable moments was putting Kate Moss in a plaid bikini for an ad campaign, which at the time was a rather innovative move for the brand.

3. How do you define kate spade new york’s design philosophy and aesthetic when it comes to home furnishings?

We had a very clear vision for the collection from the beginning, and this guided us throughout the entire design process. We laid out what it was and was not – for example: it is eclectic not retro, chic not trendy, clever not kitsch, feminine not girly.  Our inspiration for the collection is telling the story of an interesting life, well lived.  We took iconic kate spade new york fashion prints, colors and clever details and translated them into a home furnishings story.  

4. How did the design process of your own home influence your work at kate spade new york or vice versa?

I approach all aspects of design through a similar lens – whether I’m designing next season’s fashion or home furnishings collection, or decorating my own home – I always like to start with deciding on what story I want to tell, and then conveying that in the colorful, playful fashion that our brand is known for.  

5. You’ve worked in London, Paris, and New York — which city do you feel best reflects your personal style and why?

My style is a melting pot of all three. All have a unique sense of style and a strong appreciation for colors and bold prints, which is inspiring. They know how to experiment and have fun with fashion, and Londoners always add a dash of wit and humor!  

6. What are you most proud of accomplishing at kate spade new york?

Taking the company to where it is today!  When I joined the brand in 2007, it was a small handbag company. Today, we are a full global lifestyle brand that reaches our consumer through multiple product channels and with growing product categories and pillars, including Women’s, Men’s, Children’s, and Home.  I’m excited to see where we go next!

7. Do you have a specific design process or ritual when starting a brand-new project?

It’s more of a mindset, really. When I’m designing, I am constantly thinking about the kate spade new york girl. I think about who she is, the places she is going, all the different occasions in her life. We like to say that our girl is quick, curious, playful, and strong. She leads an interesting life. She likes to stand out in a crowd, and she is not afraid of bright colors or bold prints. She likes pieces that start a conversation at a cocktail party or when hosting at home—so we always think about special ways to charm and surprise her through design details.  

I have found working in new categories really exciting – you don’t know what you don’t know. You push boundaries because of this and often end up creating something really fresh and new.

8. If you could redesign any celebrity home, who would it be and why?

I’d like to work with Emma Stone. I love her and think she would be fun and open to ideas.

9. What is your best advice for young aspiring fashion or furniture designers?

You must trust yourself as the guardian of your own brand to have the right instinct. You have to be bold, curious and not afraid to stand out in a crowd. If you do what you love you can’t go wrong!

10. Tell us about the brand's new wall decor collection.

This is an exciting and natural extension for us as it’s the icing on the cake for every story we tell, from interiors to fashion. We are known for our curated, colorful, often tongue-in-cheek salon walls, and we wanted to bring our love for art to life, making it accessible to our girl. Each design reflects our traditional-meets-modern aesthetic, with our playful twist. The 70-plus piece collection includes bold abstracts, cheeky cinema catchphrases, sophisticated sketches, lush landscapes, and more. It builds upon the brand’s successful suite of home offerings in furniture, lighting, rugs, fabric, wallpaper, tabletop, housewares, linens, bedding, and décor. We cannot wait to see how our customers layer the wall décor into their homes to express their own artistic, personal style.

11. What can we expect from kate spade new york’s home collection in the future?

We always have exciting things up our sleeves. You’ll have to wait and see!

Lightning round!

12. Winter or summer?

Summer!

13. Polka dots or stripes?

At the moment, stripes with a touch of tassels.

14. Eye-catching bag or killer heels?

Always both.

15. Beyonce or Rihanna?

Beyonce.

16. Coffee or tea?

English tea—I start each day with a proper cup.