When best friends Elyce Arons and Kate Spade launched Frances Valentine in 2016, there was one word that guided their ethos: joy. The duo wanted to create a new business that continued what they started with the original Kate Spade brand, imbuing a sense of fun, wonderment, and vintage verve into everything they do. Today, the company makes good on that promise, with lines of apparel, accessories, and—our favorite, of course—catchy, colorful finds for the home.
We spoke with Elyce to learn more about the history of Frances Valentine, their fun accessories and home furnishings, and her own passion for one-of-a-kind vintage shopping. See what she had to say below, and be sure to shop Frances Valentine on Chairish, along with all of Elyce’s fave finds.
How and why did you start Frances Valentine? And how did you come up with the name?
I launched Frances Valentine with my best friends Katy and Andy Spade as a shoe and handbag company in 2016. We wanted great, interesting design and quality at reasonable price points that we couldn’t find ourselves as customers. In 2019, we began adding apparel pieces to our accessories collection. Today we have a full lifestyle brand including apparel, shoes, handbags, jewelry, accessories, and special pieces for the home.
Frances and Valentine were two names that we loved and happened to both be family names of Katy’s. We put them together to create this woman named Frances Valentine. She is your favorite aunt, your adoring sister, your beautiful mother, your ideal best friend. She is that person who has amazing, fearless style and makes you laugh harder than anyone else. That is Frances Valentine.
How would you describe the Frances Valentine brand today, and how has it evolved over the years?
Today, Frances Valentine is a lifestyle brand made up of women’s apparel and accessories. It inspires mood-boosting, confidence-building, stylish dressing, and living. We began as an accessories business, designing shoes and handbags. In 2019, in homage to Katy, we recreated two of her favorite vintage apparel pieces: a caftan and an embroidered sweater. They sold out over and over again. Our customers continued to ask for all of the vintage pieces we were using to style our campaigns. We began making jackets, tops, dresses, and pants, all inspired by vintage pieces with quality and style made to last—clothes with a story to tell. We are in the pursuit of making fashion feel fun again that transcend trends, and most of all, spark joy.
It’s finally summer (thankfully!). What are some tips you have about outdoor dining, entertaining, and/or how to set a beautiful table that wows?
Entertain outdoors as much as possible! Preferably under a huge tree or arbor—there is something cozy about having a natural ceiling outside. Lots of candles, lots of flowers, and lots of color with placemats, table linens, and ceramic dishware. I am a huge fan of using color everywhere (in case you couldn’t tell).
Your home decor products are just plain fun! Colorful, beautiful, and brimming with personality. How do you go about choosing the products, colors, and patterns (and do you have a favorite that’s available on Chairish)?
We search to find fabulous vintage prints and select the ones that feel right for the next season. We tend to be drawn to a lot of florals but also use stripes, plaids, conversationals, and geometric prints. Anything that sparks joy when you see it. I love selecting which prints we will use for our colorful embroideries. It is hard to select just a few…they are all so beautiful. I think my favorite item would be the hand embroidered Mexican cocktail napkins. They feel so personal and hand crafted.
What is your own personal design aesthetic when it comes to your home?
Keep everything around you that makes you happy and celebrate your own personal style. Our house was built in 1851 and still has most of the original details: crown molding, a large wooden mirror on the parlor floor, and original crystal chandeliers. To this we add a lot of print, color, and personal items. The majority of our furniture is mid-century. I love adding my kids’ ceramic projects to our living quarters and mixing up formal with personal. When we bought the house from the long-time owner, the door was painted a bright lacquer Dutch red, and we repaint it the same color every few years. We believe this was left over from the Dorothy Draper era of encouraging everyone to paint their doors red as a sign of welcome. It truly is so happy. I can’t tell you how many people stop to take pictures on our stoop every day.
Do you have one key home design tip that you can share with our audience?
Don’t be afraid to use color—and lots of it. It is your home and you live there, so mix different styles and eras in high and low pieces. I like to make things interesting by using paintings and tchotchkes from vacations and art projects from my kids. Your home should reflect what you love.
On Chairish & Vintage Shopping
How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage?
We at FV consider ourselves the opposite of fast fashion. We are not trend driven and so classic pieces should not ever go out of style. When you buy a piece of Frances Valentine, it is made to live in your closet for years and hopefully be passed on to your daughter, granddaughter, or friend. We also use as many sustainable materials as possible and every year they become more and more available and affordable.
Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? What’s a dream piece for you?
What do you find most compelling about Chairish?
The editing that happens by the staff at Charish is what makes it so compelling. It is so easy to find exactly what I am looking for with filters and easy descriptions. All of the collections are beautifully edited and the website makes it easy to look in particular regions for items. The photography is excellent and I know I can’t go wrong shopping for a lot of items at a time. I shop on Chairish often for our retail stores and I adore the aesthetic and find it very easy to use.
What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?
Bill Tansey Pink Wall painting
Some Design Favorites…
Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room:
Fresh flowers and interesting books
Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:”
Painting an old piece of furniture a bright color
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
The classic wicker handbag
Favorite paint color:
Favorite piece of decor in your home:
Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration:
Favorite style icon:
Design destination every creative should visit at least once:
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
Be kind and polite to everyone.
Some Lifestyle Favorites…
Favorite vacation destination:
Mexico and Greece
Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling:
Les Deux Gares in Paris
Raoul’s in New York
Favorite small museum:
Madoo Gardens (the home of Robert Dash)
Michael Smerconish (for daily takes on the news)
Favorite Instagram accounts to follow:
Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift:
A good bottle of olive oil
Peony and poppy
Favorite adult beverage:
Heineken or the Filthy Martini at Cafe Cluny, in New York
Favorite way to unwind at home:
Favorite entertaining essential:
A good cutting board
Lead image: Adam Ward