Our Girl Kate







By Michelle Crowe



Kate and Andy Spade photographed by Emily Shur for Bon Appetit in the Napa Valley, where they could be found in the summer months.


When the original Kate Spade boutique opened on Oak Street, everyone wanted to attend the party. Boyfriends and husbands, who normally begged off any sort of store soiree, wanted in on that one. What’s more, they stayed well into the evening. Upstairs, where the Jack Spade collection lived, drinking spirits and having just as good a time as the girliest girl there.

Kate’s laugh could be heard wafting above the chatter, hearty and genuine, and she greeted everyone who approached with a refreshing sincerity.


Manners, Occasions, and Style, first published in 2004 are still in print.


Those were the heady dot com days when it seemed that fortune was just a click away, but here was this wonderfully relatable woman who had done it in real life with her bags, yes, but also with the Kenneth Jay Lane bracelets, Crane stationery and vintage books and vinyl records that made the space so perfect.

She was gracious, and the delightful, knowledgeable, exceedingly professional staff reflected that spirit of inclusion and lovely manners.


The company’s circa 2000ish ads were so charming and relatable.


Every shopper was welcomed and nearly anytime one dashed down Oak Street a group of friends or a mother/daughter duo could be spotted taking a commemorative photo in front of the charming windows. Sometimes their shopping bags were held high like trophies and sometimes it was just the ladies commemorating their pilgrimage to the store.

As I read the coverage of Kate’s terrible, tragic, tremendously sad death I noticed several writers dropped the phrase “for the masses” into their stories and with this I take umbrage. Not because they are wrong, but because it is supposed to convey that the work was somewhat less worthy because college girls on spring break posed outside with the shopping bags for which they’d worked so hard.


Kate and Andy photographed for Vogue.


Remember that this woman was a senior fashion editor and knew all the insider-y stuff as well as anyone, yet she refused to adapt the jaded snark of so many. Instead she struck a chord with accessible elegance and manners.

It has been wonderful to see so many people break out their vintage bags as an homage to Kate these past two weeks, especially the originals, although Deborah Lloyd and her team were admirable stewards of the brand for the past ten years.


Kate’s influence can be seen today all over Instagram. This holiday ad shows why.

Let’s all keep those bags safe and along with them keep alive that spirit, that ability to create a party where everyone is welcome, and bit of red lipstick is welcome. A kinder, gentler place that might seem to be gone but is still very much thriving every time we send a thank you note or make a perfect toast.