With the sudden and tragic passing of one of the world’s most influential fashion designers, I’d like to take a moment to respectfully acknowledge Kate Spade’s accomplishments, highlight her inspiring career, and celebrate her colorful life.
Back in 1962, the world knew very little about Kansas City native and future fashion icon, Kathrine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan. By the mid-eighties, as she toiled tirelessly in her office at Mademoiselle Magazine, the soon-to-be “It Bag” inventor would begin to make waves that still undulate in the industry today. Although reportedly telling CNN, “I didn’t grow up wanting to be a designer,” an impeccable sense of timing and inspirational fearlessness transformed her into one of the best-known and respected designers of our generation.
Graduating from Arizona State for journalism, Ms. Kate had no intention on creating the impact she did. Surprising herself, she conceptualized the Kate Spade business at the encouragement of her husband, Andy Spade, over a candid dinner of Mexican food. In 1992, just seven years after beginning her career as a fashion editor, Kate quit her job with the magazine and launched what would become one of the world’s most iconic brands. Her guts and glory would pave the way for fashion fanatics in ways that are still being discovered.
What began in 1993 as a modest 6-item lineup of colorful handbags with a unique and quirky aesthetic, the Kate Spade brand struggled at first. However, it only took a few years for her budding business to become a multimillion-dollar empire that created hundreds of luxury handbags. By the turn of the century, her company offered high-end shoes, clothing, jewelry, and even home goods. By 1999, Kate and Andy sold a majority share of their company to Neiman Marcus department stores for a cool $33 million.
But her story didn’t end there, and it certainly doesn’t end with her untimely death. By 2006, the remaining shares of her namesake company were sold to Neiman Marcus for another $59 million before being gobbled up by Liz Claiborne for $124 million, divorcing Kate from the empirical brand completely. After a decade-long hiatus, however, she began again by launching the Frances Valentine line in 2016. Just one year later, her original business, Kate Spade, was sold yet again to Coach for a whopping $2.4 billion. It’s safe to say that her timeless vision is gaining value as the years pass – even if she’s longer here to witness it.
With her premature demise, we reluctantly remember this all-too-common trend among the elite. Designers whose careers ended in much the same way – Alexander McQueen, L’Wren Scott – remind us that we must address the proverbial elephant in the room: Suicide is serious and, regardless of how good we have it, how much money we make, or what we look like on Instagram, we have all been hurt and we all hold some of it inside – sometimes to the bitter end. Kate’s passing signifies the importance of looking deeper, judging not by outward appearances that seem otherwise perfect.
We might read Kate’s life story or look at her glamorous rise to fame and think she had it all – a successful career, global notoriety, financial security, a loving family. Still, none of us know the fight she was fighting or the demons she was struggling to overcome, so we can’t judge the manner in which she chose to make her exit. All we can do is admit that mental health is a real thing and do what we can to better understand it.
Personally, I struggle every day to do my best for LCNY while also making an impact on the fashion world, paying rent, keeping my social media following updated, and creating new collections for my own budding brand every quarter. I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that it’s ok not to have a smile permanently pasted on my face – to know my limits, take a break, and allow my spirit to recoup, refresh, and reset. Unfortunately, even the seemingly successful among us don’t always have that luxury. Personal lives can bleed into our professional endeavors and make life tough.
Whatever Kate’s struggle, and whatever your own story may be, just remember that you’re not alone. Every person on this planet has troubles that overwhelm him or her. You aren’t the only person hurting in a way that’s unmanageable and indescribable, but there is help. Just know that you are loved and, like Kate, would be sorely missed.
So, I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, or what your situation is, we here at LCNY are here to talk if you need someone. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for immediate help. Your life is important, your friends and family love you and know that after every storm the clouds part and the sun shines.
Yours in Style,
post in : Lauren Cecchi