A fashion icon’s passing is always bittersweet. One faces mixed emotions of sadness and gratitude. On the one hand you realize you will never again experience the innovation that was introduced into your life by that talented individual yet there is also a deep thankfulness for all of the beauty the designer has shown over the years. When Tuesday’s announcement of Kate Spade’s death spiraled across the internet and I began to read a more in-depth summary of her professional achievements, the reality of how much her designs had permeated through all aspects of fashion & creative endeavors washed over me like a ton of bricks.
Kate Spade was an every-girl designer who made uptown fashion approachable and achievable. In the 1990s, at a sorority function at Boston University, that trademark Kate Spade boxy black handbag seemed to be on every coed’s arm. It was as if a secret memo had gone out in the middle of the night that said this was the “it” bag and if you didn’t have one, you were on the outs. Always the fashion rebel, I was rocking my Coach “SoHo” bucket bag and felt oddly out of place. That simple little black and white label that read, “Kate Spade New York” meant something in terms of status and I wanted one, desperately. She had reinvented the Little Black Dress in handbag form.
Flash forward years later to my time at Bloomingdale’s where Kate Spade Home products were all the registry rage. While at this point the company was no longer being run by Kate Spade, you could still see her whimsical and unique point of view influencing the products. Her subtlety and creativity in taking something both classic-retro and transforming it into something modern was just perfection and signature designs like platinum multi-lined dinner plates and etched dots in a vase became immediately identifiable as a Kate Spade design. She had a signature flair and while it may not have been as flashy as Versace or as crisp as Dior, Kate Spade had created a look all her own.
Scrolling through our photo archives this week, certain cakes jumped out at me as “Kate Spade-esque” and I thought while everyone is busy discussing the hows and whys of her death, a preferable tribute would be to demonstrate how her design influence crossed borders into other creative arenas. While a cake designer, such as Ron Ben-Israel, certainly develops their own innovations in the creative process, as human beings we cannot help but allow other’s aesthetics to seep into our consciousness. Dots, lines and winding vines have been used in fashion and home designs throughout the ages but a fresh take on the classics is what seems to catch our eyes and then manifest themselves again in our own creative journey.
Cake design by Katie McDougal @katie_mcdougal
I have put together my own homage to the design inspirations Kate Spade introduced us to along with their Ron Ben-Israel interpretation in the hopes that people will remember that the true legacy that is left behind by all designers is that their innovation can be carried on in the work of others. Gone but not forgotten.
Cake photos by Ron Ben-Israel Cakes