Kathleen Kirkwood, ‘shoulder pad diva’ and QVC creator, dies at 62 – WWD

Former QVC personality Kathleen Kirkwood, known as the “shoulder pad diva”, died on November 5 at the age of 62 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

The cause of death has not been determined for Kirkwood, who fell ill suddenly in September, according to his sister Joann Kirkwood, who said a private Zoom service was planned.

A determined entrepreneur and an early advocate of sustainability practices, Kirkwood immersed himself in fashion after graduating from high school. Born in Laurelton, NY, Kirkwood’s mother worked at a nearby fashion store, Ronnie’s in Cedarhurst, and her father [Gerard] was a stockbroker. “My mother has always been into fashion. There are pictures of them coming out. My parents made ‘hustle’ [dance] contest and they went clubbing. It was always fashion, fashion, fashion,” said Joann Kirkwood, a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate who worked as a children’s clothing designer for 31 years until recently.

After moving to Manhattan as a teenager, Kathleen Kirkwood began working as a showroom saleswoman at Gil Aimbez Static, a manufacturer of acid jeans, and later at Philippe Adec. She attended night school to learn to speak French fluently, her sister said. In 1983, Kirkwood created Kirkwood International. “Her fighting spirit was evident when she was 18. She was earning a lot of money at Philippe Adec and she just thought it wasn’t enough,” her sister recalled with a laugh on Monday. “I remember she said, ‘Damn no! I don’t work all those hours for this.

One of his signature designs was “Pints ​​of Pads,” pinched shoulder pads, which were a staple for many working women in the 1980s when power suits were de rigueur. “My husband and I used to help her pack the pints, when she started out in a little house somewhere in Staten Island. It was exciting,” Joann Kirkwood said. “She did really well. She was amazing at sales. She was a go-getter. She knew her stuff. She lived and breathed Pints ​​of Pads.

Entrepreneur Kirkwood also developed the Socksystem, a unique style of sock that was offered in 14 colors and her Soles to Go slipper label was based on an 11-color style. Always interested in finding items in accessories that needed a “little spruce up,” she also at one point came up with menswear-inspired socks.

Kirkwood told WWD in 1988, “I’m basing it on one design. I am an object designer. I’m designing an article and that’s all it’s going to be. To update the line, new colors are introduced.

In 1989, Kirkwood was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show for a discussion of women in business. She debuted on QVC in 1992. Kirkwood was also a supporter of former Vice President Al Gore’s environmental initiative. She was recently recognized as a leading green company, her sister said.

Kirkwood’s friend for many years, designer Dennis Basso, who sells a broadcast line on QVC, said Friday they often hang out together backstage. “She always had a smile on her face and was cheerful. She was innovative in [making shoppers] been able to buy shoulder pads to put in sweaters and dresses that didn’t have them,” he said.

In the late 1990s, Kirkwood concocted another never-before-seen creation – the “Cookie Cami,” a camisole with a built-in bra that featured removable padded cookies. The $60 item was sold in the intimate apparel area of ​​department stores.

In 2010, she started the BRA Recycling Agency, which repurposed bras that were recycled into red carpets that were then purchased by people at special events. A portion of the profits was used to benefit breast cancer research. “She was very generous to causes that helped people like Dress for Success and other organizations. She really wanted to leave a legacy through her donations,” Joann Kirkwood said.

About five years ago, as working from home became more acceptable, Kirkwood increasingly did so from Montauk, NY, but she also kept her apartment in Manhattan. The longtime New York resident preferred a reverse seasonal commute. “She loved deer and loved being there in the winter. But not so much in summer, because it was so crowded. She would come back to town in the summer. She was going back and forth,” her sister said.

Kathleen Kirkwood and her sister Joann.
Courtesy of Joann Kirkwood

Over the past 10 years, Kirkwood’s environmental initiatives have become a higher priority, his sister said. In addition to the BRA Recycling Agency, Kathleen Kirkwood has established herself as a designer committed to the protection of the environment, the fight against global warming and against the use of plastics. “Kathleen attributed her success to herself, being determined and never stopping and never giving up. My mom and dad were very keen on us being very independent women right from the start. They always wanted us to be able to take care of ourselves,” Joann Kirkwood said. “We both have it. I’m starting a business because I was laid off after 31 years in a business, due to COVID-19. I’m starting a small business like Kathleen with an article. That’s what elasticity is called for a small shoe rubber band. I hope his spirit will be in me to never give up.

In addition to his sister, Kirkwood is survived by his mother, Katherine.

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