Ever since I was in my early adolescence I remember opening just about any magazine and finding Spade's work straight away. It is colourful, clever, vibrant and exceptionally appealing in comparison to the stacks of pages of moody, dim modelling shots that surrounded it.
Reported dead from an apparent suicide on Tuesday, Spade founded her brand in 1993 with her spouse, Andy Spade, and selected ragtag styles for the launch of the brand's quirky advertising campaigns. This trend was sustained with her next creation, Frances Valentine, a merging of her family name, Francis, and the middle name of her father.
Do you know why the work of Kate Spade was adored by little girls just as much as their mothers?
Fundamentally, the brand represented that creativity, femininity and a sense of liveliness were not characteristics that you had to sacrifice and disregard in order to be revered in the world, but that, rather, these qualities should be exalted. Fantastical? Perhaps. But it was an idea that became a multibillion-dollar one, all based on playful prints and boxy barbie doll hand bags.
Spade birthed the concept that whimsical can have a position in the working world, that to have a level of sophistication didn't have to mean having a black suede handbag and matching suit jacket. The idea that patterns could be varied and colours could be vibrant, was a concept that, in a variety of ways, spoke to the future.
In a sea of clean-cut, ranked handbags and subtle shades, she swam against the current with an unashamedly happy, pretty, girlish aesthetic, defying social norms.
Although the company has been moved between various hands across the decades, and Spade and her husband officially left it in 2007 to give their attention to their family, the strong legacy of Kate Spade has been clear in the mass social media expressions of nostalgia and sadness since the news of her death was released.
Particularly upsetting for her fans was her apparent suicide, a bitter contrast to the happiness and liveliness that expressed itself so strongly in all areas of her designs. In a sense, this reminds us that the image that someone shows to the public, through wealth, achievement, or a certain fondness of brightly-hued accessories, doesn't always directly reflect their authentic reality. It serves as an important reminder that we should never overlook this.