When people pass away, there’s always a reverent sense of loss, thinking about how the world will never be the same without them in it. When a fashion designer dies, especially suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, many often think about the art that would have been created … what could have been.
We saw it when Alexander McQueen passed away, the most prominent loss in the fashion industry with the grief of it still felt today. Many were shocked that such an artistic genius was gone and wondered what would become of the fashion mecca he created.
In a similar vein, came the passing of the great Kate Spade. The women whose designs molded a generation of women and was seen as a guiding light to many, her death was a shock to us all. Sadly, such losses lead to questions about the future of the designer’s brand. It’s an unfortunate thought to ponder, but fashion is a business.
After all … what is Versace without Gianni Versace? Dior without Christian Dior? Although Kate Spade left her role as head of Kate Spade New York in 2007, her influence was still felt heavily within the brand, so much so that most consumers assumed that she was still the head of her company at the time of her passing.
The company may need to make the same kind of transition as when other previous designers have passed, but many consumers will. What does the future for Kate Spade New York look like without its ray of sunshine?
Interestingly, the current climate at the brand will actually lead itself to a new chapter for the long-standing company. Their newly-unveiled Spring 2019 runway show was not only its first without Spade. It was the first runway show at New York Fashion Show. A staple of NYFW, the brand had previously only showed their new bi-annual collections as presentations, best described as a standing-still runway show without the models in motion.
And it served as the introduction to the brand’s new creative director Nicola Glass. Glass, a seasoned professional with a special knack for accessories, had a challenge on her hands. She not only had to define the brand for herself, answering the question for many consumers about what the brand will become, but it would have been quite inappropriate to Spade’s legacy if at least a mention of her wasn’t included.
And so the designer paid tribute to the brand’s founder in the most fitting of manners … in the little details that were her style statement.
We saw the Spade icon, most well-known from the brand’s logo and a play on the late designer’s name, popped up in places throughout the collection: in the 1970s-inspired pastel-hued gingham, in the clasp of two-toned crossbody bags, shaping the swing of earrings hanging down to the shoulders.
The color palette, a modern take on the seventies vibe that the designer was clearly trying to convey, was bright and bold while remaining classically understated: strong lavenders, greens, pinks, burgundies infused with pops of yellow and crisp white. “I find color optimistic and enthusiastic, and I adore it,” Kate Spade once said. These hues would have been right up her alley.
A city-girl inspiration underlined nearly every look, from the gingham to the florals to the chic suits, while remaining quirky and fun like the designer herself. Any fan of the brand can see Glass’ modern-day interpretation of Kate Spade’s vision in a fitted houndstooth suit topped with a lavender striped neckerchief, a blue patterned headscarf and large sunglasses.
And, of course, every look came packed with the accessories that were Spade’s forte.
In addition to the looks on the runway, two small details of the show itself stood out. According to Vogue, “a sweet nod to the house founder came in a thin trail of never-ending glitter that looped in between the circular islands where guests sat.” What a perfect way to highlight the quote that laid on every seat, one of Spade’s most iconic: “She left a little sparkle everywhere she went.”
And last, but certainly not least, a simple note on the back of the quote cards: “In Loving Memory 1962–2018.”
Sometimes it’s the little details that, when joined together, mean so much. And nobody did that better than Kate Spade herself.