Kathleen Kirkwood, a former QVC personality known as the “diva of shoulder pads,” died Nov. 5 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York at the age of 62. Kirkwood’s cause of death has not been confirmed, according to her sister Joann Kirkwood, who said a private Zoom ceremony is being arranged.
Kathleen Kirkwood, a driven entrepreneur and early supporter of sustainable principles, jumped into the fashion industry after graduating from high school. Kirkwood was born in Laurelton, New York, to a mother who worked at a neighbourhood fashion store, Ronnie’s in Cedarhurst, and a father who was a stockbroker. “My mum was always interested in fashion.” There are photographs of them leaving. My parents competed in ‘hustle’ [dancing] contests and went partying. Joann Kirkwood, a Fashion Institute of Technology graduate who worked as a children’s clothing designer for 31 years until recently, stated, “It was always fashion, fashion, fashion.”
Kathleen Kirkwood began working as a showroom salesperson for Gil Aimbez Static, an acid jeans producer, and subsequently for Philippe Adec after relocating to Manhattan as a teenager. According to her sister, she went to night school to learn how to speak French fluently. Kirkwood International was founded in 1983 by Kirkwood. “When she was 18, her battling spirit was visible.” “She was making decent money at Philippe Adec and she simply felt that it wasn’t enough,” her sister recounted Monday with a giggle. “I recall her shouting, ‘Hell no!'” ‘I’m not going to work all those hours for that.'”
“Pints of Pads,” clip-on shoulder pads that were a fixture for many working women in the high-rolling 1980s when power suits were in vogue, was one of her hallmark creations. “When she initially started in a small cottage on Staten Island someplace, my husband and I used to assist her pack the pints.” Joann Kirkwood described the experience as “exciting.” “She performed admirably. She was a natural salesperson.
She was a self-starter. She was knowledgeable in her field. She was obsessed with Pints of Pads.”Kirkwood also created the Socksystem, a single design of socks available in 14 colours, and her Soles to Go slipper company, which was based on a single style available in 11 colours. She was always looking for accessories that needed “a little perking up,” and at one time she even provided men’s wear-inspired socks for ladies.
Kathleen Kirkwood began working from home from Montauk, N.Y., around five years ago, when working from home became more acceptable, but she also maintained her Manhattan apartment. The longtime New Yorker preferred a seasonal commute in the opposite direction. “She really adored the deer and enjoyed being there in the winter.” However, this was not the case throughout the summer due of the large number of visitors. She planned to return to the city in the summer. “She’d travel back and forth,” her sister explained.