A Look Back On Kate Spade’s Fashion Empire

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The news of Kate Spade’s passing has come as a shock to us all. Not only was she a prolific and internationally-loved designer with a keen eye for fresh designs, color schemes, and timeless products ranging from handbags, jewelry, fragrances, accessories, and home products, but she brought a playful approach to a sophisticated lifestyle. With the tagline an “exuberant approach to the everyday encourages personal style with a dash of incandescent charm,” or as they call it, “living colorfully,” it’s no wonder Kate Spade New York and the designer behind the name captured the hearts of so many.

Here’s a look into the life and work that propelled Kate Spade’s fashion empire into not only a brand but a lifestyle.

Born on December 24, 1962, in Kansas City, Missouri, the visionary designer was born Katherine Noel Brosnahan. According to Biography, Spade began her career and spent five years at Mademoiselle magazine, eventually landing the role as senior fashion editor and head of accessories. It wasn’t long before Spade decided to dip her toes in the design industry, leaving the magazine in 1991 to pursue her own fashion label, Kate Spade Handbags.

With in-depth experience in the accessories world under her belt, she applied her skills to launch the line with crisp silhouettes and pops of color; her signature design elements that attracted her loyal following. It wasn’t long after that she opened her quaint boutique in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood in 1993 and joined forces with her husband, Andy Spade.

Spade branched out into different product offerings and began attracting the attention of celebrities, exclusive buyers, and retailers from notable stores including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. In just three years, she was honored with prestigious recognition from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who awarded her classic designs with the “America’s New Fashion Talent in Accessories” award.

The brand’s popularity expanded across more than 450 stores around the world, and they eventually sold the company to the Neiman Marcus Group in 1999.

According to Cosmopolitan, Spade sold the remaining stock in Kate Spade New York to Neiman Marcus in 2006, who already had a majority share in the label and used the free time to raise her teenage daughter, Frances, who is now 13-years-old.

Although remaining active in Kate Spade New York, Spade continued to inspire with her inspirational words and style and published three books Manners, Occasions, and Style.

As Cosmopolitan reported, Spade returned to the fashion industry 10 years after leaving Kate Spade New York to launch Frances Valentine, focusing on shoes and her signature product that began it all, handbags. Most recently, Coach had bought Kate Spade New York.

Kate Spade
  Theo Wargo / Getty Images

On June 5, Page Six reported that Spade took her life in her Upper East Side apartment. She was 55.

The company shared a statement on their website.

“Kate Spade, the visionary founder of our brand, has passed. Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly heartbreaking time. We honor all the beauty she brought into this world.”

The fashion icon’s classic, yet revolutionary designs, have become a staple to so many, and her contributions to fashion and art have certainly impacted the fashion industry for generations to come.

Kate Spade Handbag
  Monica Schipper / Getty Images

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