Reminiscing on the legacy of Kate Spade
There are some figures that briefly intersect your life in one form or another. It might even be in a largely impersonal way. One doesn’t truly notice their contribution, relevance or the role they play in American life until they are gone.
Kate Spade existed like that for me and for nearly every woman with whom I’ve spoken since the announcement of her death last week.
What came to mind for me first was her eponymous hand bags—chic, covetable little creations which were entirely out of reach for me during the early 00’s when owning a Kate Spade was the mark of having achieved a successful adulthood and still in school, I was only just preparing to undertake this endeavor. Yet her bags resembled a cheerful hope for what the future might bring: security, prosperity, self-determination, glamour, fun.
Even if her style didn’t resonate with you—was too bubble gum or too commercial—it was and still is difficult to find fault with the optimism communicated by her clothing and accessories. This is a contribution in itself amidst a bevy of contemporary designers who create impractical clothing which takes itself too seriously.
We should also give her credit for forging a style that was her own. She towed the line between multiple aesthetics: preppy with a girlish tilt, serious careerist with a bit of whimsy, an uptown penchant for glamour with a downtown propensity for daring which ebbs on carelessness. In stark contrast from the entrepreneurs who look out and seek to replicate what is already in the world, Kate Spade demonstrated an ability to envision and invent an entire world all her own—a world whose story is told through the medium of dress. Such originality is a mark of any true designer or artist.
Her style, her namesake brand, the business she built will indeed be fondly and warmly remembered.