As I empty my dishwasher and put away my Kate Spade dishes, I mourn the loss of this design icon. Everyday I put on my Kate Spade sunglasses, and I have more than a few of her purses to choose from in my closet…I am realizing how much she touched my life. Even though she hadn’t spearheaded her eponymous company for more than a decade, her designs had a fresh, youthful naïveté that was clean, perky, elegant, and refreshing all at the same time. Everything she touched exuded restrained beauty with a nod to 50’s glamour. This strong design sense permeated everything she designed and this sensibility stayed with the company even after she sold it.
It is hard to make sense of her death, and I imagine even harder still for those closest to her. Her suicide reminds us that no matter the achievement or appearance of success, we do not know the demons that creative people live with. As I say this I think of Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain. Two other highly creative people who where fearless in putting themselves out there, sharing what they had to give, but also losing the fight to what probably haunted them daily.
I have my own family history of mental demons chasing those that I love. Because it had touched me so close to home, I wanted to help shine light on how mental health diseases have touched each of us, or our families in some way. In 2010 I joined CSL (now SolMateo), a small but mighty group in the Bay Area, that raises money for the Mental Health Association of San Mateo County and StarVista’s Suicide Intervention & Prevention Center. It has given me great joy to work alongside these women who help fight the fight against mental illness and expose the stigma of this disease. If you grieve with me over those who lost the fight to this disease, and want an opportunity to help, consider a donation to CSL/SolMateo. You can mail a check to CSLSM P.O. Box 117561 Burlingame, California 94011-7561 or donate on their website https://www.cslsmc.org.
Kate Spade brought exuberance and refreshing innocence to the design world, and I will always remember her in that way.