In memory of a fashion icon.
Kate Spade, as my friend Alyssa said to me today, is a “working girl’s luxury.”
Maybe we’ll never be able to afford Chanel. And maybe we can only ever buy Kate Spade on a clearance sale at Nordstrom Rack, if we’re lucky. But Kate Spade, the brand, somehow feels as real as Kate Spade, the person, who passed away today from an apparent suicide. My heart is with her loved ones.
Kate Spade made me feel strong and feminine. More importantly, she made me feel like those two qualities were a natural pairing, that I could bring the girliness to the workplace. The most powerfully-femme I’ve ever felt was wearing a geometric color-blocked Kate Spade dress to work. The brand’s aggressive femininity was a feature, not a bug.
It’s not that the brand is my precise aesthetic; it’s preppier and girlier and sportier than my personal style. But that’s what made me love Kate Spade – the feeling that I could rock a sensibly WASPy dress and still make it suit my own brand of decidedly-not-WASPy weirdness. That a preppy purse would fit into my aesthetic – not the other way around.
With my mauve-and-black boxy purse and matching wallet, I carry Kate around with me every day. She’s helped me have so many of those wonderful conversations you have with strangers when you bond over a clothing item or accessory one of you is wearing. Those brief encounters that make you feel an other-worldly level of confident and fabulous, like just for a moment, you’re in an episode of Sex and the City, or Gossip Girl, or whatever the relevant-to-Gen-Z equivalent is.
I have paragraphs more I could say about Kate – this almost became a painfully long essay about femininity, the workplace, and the power of female friendship – but a picture’s worth a thousand words. Here are some of my favorite looks from Kate Spade collections and fashion shows in recent years.
Rest in peace, Kate.
If you or a loved one needs help, you are not alone. Call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.