Nearly eight months after Kate Spade tragically took her own life at age 55, the iconic fashion designer’s niece, Rachel Brosnahan, is opening up about her aunt’s legacy.
“[She was] one of the closest members of our family certainly and one of the kindest and most generous people I ever had the privilege of knowing,” the award-winning star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel , 28, said during a candid interview on TODAY.
“We were so touched hearing in the wake of this unthinkable tragedy that we all experienced together, how many other people had been touched by her personally, by her work, by her designs,” she continued. “It was something that really meant a lot to us and still does.”
The actress is keeping her aunt’s memory alive through a new meaningful fashion project. She’s starring as the new face of the spring campaign for Frances Valentine, the label Spade founded in 2016.
For more on how Kate Spade’s family, friends and fashion label are keeping the late designer’s legacy alive, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
“When you lose someone you love very, very much, you spend a lot of time trying to think about how to keep their spirit alive. There is so much of her left behind and this was an opportunity for us to celebrate her life and her legacy,” Brosnahan said.
The campaign pays tribute to Spade’s signature colorful aesthetic and vibrant designs with fun, whimsical touches. “The bags are just stunning. They’re bright. They’re colorful and beautiful shapes,” Brosnahan said. “I know Kate always talked about being inspired by my grandmother June — her mother — ripping things straight out of her closet. So I feel like that’s where it still lives on as well.”
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The award-winning actress discussed her new campaign exclusively in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
“In the wake of Katy’s passing, my family and I were so overwhelmed and encouraged by the love and support we received from those who were touched by Katy’s work, many of whom were strangers from around the world,” she told us. “When you lose someone you love, you search for boundless ways to keep their memory alive. This felt like a way to do that through her beautiful creations and an opportunity to share them with all of those who her work meant so much to.”
Spade founded Frances Valentine with her husband of 24 years, Andy Spade, 56, as well as Elyce Arons, who was her best friend since they were college freshmen. The designer named it after her daughter, Frances Beatrix (“Bea”), 13. (The Spades and Arons launched the line a decade after Spade left her namesake empire, which they helped build together.)
“I think it’s more meaningful than any other campaign we’ve done because it’s [Rachel], and she was so close to Katy,” Arons told PEOPLE. “I know it would really make Katy smile.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- TALK (8255), text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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