I remember my first Kate Spade bag. It was almost a decade ago and I bought it on a trip to New York City. It was a cute, green, cross body satchel with the signature gold t-bar lock on the front. I loved it. Once home in Sydney, it forever reminded me of New York. And really, this is what Kate Spade’s eponymous label has always been about, creating a character of the glossy, shiny, romantic Manhattan girl, whether she’s a local or not.
Upon hearing of Spade’s death this morning, the outpouring of support and love for her and her family from celebrities and followers has been heart-warming. It has ignited a memorandum, 25 years in the making, of all the times her famed box bags, pleated printed frocks, signature bow-covered leatherwear and glitzy jewellery has donned the A-list. From genuine devotees in Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and her sister Pippa to Taylor Swift to Gwyneth Paltrow during the height of her paparazzi-fulled years.
In 1993, Spade (then Kate Brosnahan) and her husband Andy Spade initiated a small accessories label based on only six handbag styles. Formerly an accessories editor for a fashion magazine, she had lamented her inability to find a “functional bag that was sophisticated and had some style” as told to The NY Times in 1999. This combination of practicality and fashion resonated with women everywhere and the brand soon became a modern icon. She expanded to include small leatherwears, jewellery and watches, stationery, eyewear, homewares and runway-presented apparel.
In 2007 Spade formally left the company and the reigns of Kate Spade & Company to Tapestry Inc. whom also own Coach and Stuart Weitzman.
When I was back in New York City a few years later, and just before my wedding, I visited her Broome Street store in SoHo and bought a set of ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ etched large glass tumblers. A perfect wedding-gift-to-us, I decided. Unlike my now long-lost green bag, we still use these on the daily. So, tonight we will toast the woman who birthed this iconic NYC character and has given fashion fabulousness to so many.
Rest in peace, Kate Spade.