A Comment on Kate Spade

posted in: Fashion, Paean 9
Kate Spade shoes, 2008. Image: Wikipedia.



You know I don’t do a lot of pop culture commentary. I don’t do political commentary, either. I really only do Mary Fons commentary — and I think we can all agree that is plenty.

But this Kate Spade thing. I gotta talk about it.

If you didn’t hear about the recent, tragic end of the mega-successful accessories designer, I am impressed. The story of her untimely end is so all over the news, even I heard about it. (There’s an adage in the world of journalism: “If it bleeds, it ledes”, which means that if a story involves sex; untimely, preferably gruesome death; and/or life-destroying scandal, make it the top story, since what “bleeds” sells newspapers.)

Empire-builder Kate Spade took her own life. That bleeds.

It’s a remarkable story because suicide is violent and ruinous no matter what, no matter who commits it. But when the person who commits suicide was the founder of a worldwide brand built with vibrant color and buttoned-up whimsy; when that person’s exuberance fueled the spirited tone that launched her multi-million-dollar empire; when the person who hung herself in her home was a success by every single measure in our strange society … This should give us all pause. We should all consider what we think we know about other people. And what we think we know about ourselves.

Honestly, I was never a Kate Spade customer. I dress pretty preppy, but her polka dots were always a little too big for me, her green too Kelly; her patent leather a tad too shiny. But I liked that she had a point of view. I liked that she used the card pip for her logo. It all made sense. I’m sorry she felt she only had one option. I’m sorry when a person thinks that and I’m sorry we don’t know, as a society, how to help them better.

Remember when people in this country died of tuberculosis? Today, we say: “We could have helped them. If only we knew then what we know now. We know so much more about germ theory and prevention and medicine. All those people died back then, but no more.” We’ll talk about mental illness and addiction like that one day.

Here’s a quote from an interview the late Mrs. Spade gave in New York last year to an online channel. The host asked her what inspires her. I like how she answered, how she personifies color:

“People inspire me. [People in] the environment. I’d love to say something more intelligent, like ‘art’ or ‘museums’ or ‘writing.’ But I would honestly say people. I look at the street and I’m not sure I reflect the street as much as I interpret it … I find color optimistic and enthusiastic … and I adore it. I don’t know how else to say it.”

9 Responses

  1. MA Newton
    | Reply

    Love the shoes, Kate. Loved your handbags and other whimsys. Loved you Kate and I’m not the only one. I am sorry you felt so alone and sad on that 10:00 hour am
    God will have time for you now, as he always did but it may take others time to digest why such a spunky lady could take her own life. Or why anyone does, taking our own life is not an option.

  2. Blanca H. Sanchez
    | Reply

    Depression takes away your healthy mental state. I’m going through my 2nd depression episode in my life, and yes, it’s painful. By the grace of God, I sought help. No one can do this for me, I must seek for help unless I want to die in the pitch darkness of hell, depression. Depression… it clouds your judgement, your rational. It’s a very dark, lonely place that only you can climb out. I believe that there’s a point of no return, which is what I believe happened with Ms. Kate Spade. Does it frighten me that I am depressed? Yes, it does. I’m seeking seeking, I’m taking my meds, but will it be enough!? I really hope so. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Ms. Spade’s untimely death.
    Regards, B

  3. Cindy Marnin-Borcherding
    | Reply

    I have never owned any Kate Spade either, I didn’t like the price tag. We never know what a person is fighting..be kind. And why is there so much mental illness…terribly sad. My heart hurts for her young daughter to go through the rest of her life without her Momma. It obviously took a toll on her marriage. I liked that her husband spoke out. Sad situation…may she be at peace.

  4. Kelly Ashton
    | Reply

    RIP, Kate Spade. And, may we find the answer, the solution, the assistance soon…..

  5. Mary Veneskey
    | Reply

    Such a sad and tragic loss, I felt exactly the same when Robin Williams committed suicide. You are exactly right Mary, we never truly know another human being or how deeply they struggle. I think of her family, her husband and her daughter. My heart just hurts. ❤️❤️❤️ May she rest in peace.

  6. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    To have loved people so much and not feel loved and worthy. Just so sad for Kate and her family.

  7. Li
    | Reply

    Rue the day when anyone sees suicide as a option. May we all forgive them and help their families work through the loss and the pain.

  8. atomic momma
    | Reply

    I, too, was stunned to learn of Kate Spade’s suicide.

    I also would never have been able to wear her clothes – they felt to girly, and immature to me for my taste. I don’t like fashion that leaves me feeling like a character and that’s what her designs felt like to me.

    However, as a creative person and designer I loved her work – her sense of color and style – there is no mistaking that she was truly a creative genius. I loved looking at her work for inspiration.

    The magic was she found her voice and made it her own and built an empire based on her own creations and following her heart. She was an inspiration to me for how to follow your dreams as a woman.

  9. atomic momma
    | Reply

    Dammit I can’t seem to get my grammar right on these posts!!!!!


    to: preposition
    two: a number
    TOO: also

    Can I add that I teach grammar and writing to middle and high schoolers?

    Karma is a bitch.

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