The fashion industry has lost one of its most iconic designers in Kate Spade, who was found dead in her Manhattan apartment on 5 June. The sudden and untimely death of the 55-year-old designer has sent shockwaves across the fashion industry worldwide and has left many of her fans distraught. Spade leaves behind a design legacy that will live on for a long time, and will continue to inspire young designers across the globe.
After her death, as we revisit her landmark pieces—that helped define the look of an era—we get a sense of her magnificent career as a fashion designer, which set global standards of creativity and versatility. The handbags she designed became status symbols and came to define a whole era of fashion.
Katherine Noel Brosnahan, aka Kate Spade, was born on 24 December 1962, in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1985, she graduated with a journalism degree from Arizona State University. After which she moved to New York, where she got a job in the accessories department as the assistant fashion editor at Mademoiselle magazine.
In 1993, she got her big break as a designer. But she wanted to do create something original. She wanted to move on from the usual handbag designs of that era, and aimed uncommon, sophisticated and yet stylish designs. She decided to design her own collection. And that’s how “Kate Spade New York” was born. Spade started her fashion label as a handbag brand. She launched a debut collection featuring six different bag silhouettes. The elegant series of bags became known for the range of shapes, colours and designs it offered.
In January 2018, “Kate Spade New York” had just completed its 25 years. And the iconic handbag called “Sam”, first launched in 1993, was reissued in Spade’s Spring-2018 collection.
The first Kate Spade shop opened in New York back in 1996. In the coming years, the designer expanded to clothing, shoes, jewellery, stationery, fragrances, eyewear, and home décor. In 1999, Neiman Marcus, an American department store owned by the Neiman Marcus Group, bought more than half of Kate Spade’s company.
In 2006, Spade sold her remaining stock to Neiman Marcus as well, before leaving the brand altogether.
Spade also helped launch her brother’s brand, “Jack Spade” , featuring men’s accessories.
More recently, in 2016, she launched a new fashion label, named “Frances Valentine”, after her daughter. The label focused on luxury shoes and handbags.
Coach, an American multinational luxury fashion company, bought the “Kate Spade New York” label in May 2017.
Spade’s handbags, with their mix of style and utility, have always been a hit with the fashion set. She carved out a distinctive niche for herself in the fashion industry, bringing her ground-breaking sense of style to the masses and leaving a lasting impact on fashion lovers everywhere.
She catered to a long list of celebrities during her career as an accesrories designer. American actress Rosario Dawson was spotted on the red carpet at the Met Gala in 2006 carrying a Kate Spade bag. In October 2016, Kate Middleton was seen wearing a pink chiffon floral frock with a ribbon bow necktie from Spade’s collection. The Duchess of Cambridge also wore a Holiday 2017 diamond-pleated shirtdress by “Kate Spade New York” in November 2017. From Anne Hathaway to A-listers such as Taylor Swift, Victoria Justice, Pippa Middleton and Leighton Meester among others, have time and again been spotted with Kate Spade creations.
In 2017, Ellie Kemper, Ashley Benson, and Mandy Moore all appeared in Kate Spade dresses at public events. In January 2018, Chrissy Metz wore a custom-made Kate Spade gown for the 2018 SAG Awards. Bella Thorne, Sarah Hyland and Ariel Winter have all donned Kate Spade dresses at several red carpet events.
On 9 February 2018. at a Kate Spade fashion show in New York, Isla Fisher, Jamie Chung, Lucy Hale, Natalia Dyer and Rachel Bloom were some of the stars who appeared and flaunted the designs on stage.
After the shocking news of Spade’s demise last week, many celebrities and a number of her fans took to Twitter to grieve the passing of the designer. Some of them shared fond memories of their first “Sam” purchase.