Photography by Spencer Platt/Getty

“She Leaves a Little Bit of Sparkle Wherever She Goes”: Five Women Remember What Kate Spade Means to Them

“She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes.” It’s a quote attributed to Kate Spade that wouldn’t look out of place emblazoned on her girlish stationary and also the quote that best encapsulates Kate Spade’s legacy. The handbag designer’s playful creations had an air of youthful sophistication and left an indelible mark on their wearers. Here, we’ve asked both fashion insiders and Kate Spade enthusiasts to share their thoughts on the important legacy Kate Spade left behind.

Tracy Russo, Political Consultant

A Kate Spade bag was a milestone for a generation of American women. My first Kate Spade bag, the now iconic black Sam, was the first “designer” handbag I purchased myself with money saved from working long hours at the mall over the summer. It was a bit of a status symbol in the late 90s, but it was also a milestone. A right of passage from your girlhood years of shopping at Claire’s to the grown-up future you aspired to. I still have that bag in my closet. Years later, as a professional working in Washington, D.C. I still turned to Kate Spade for fashionable bags to carry to work or fun and whimsical accessories. Kate Spade’s modern take on designer bags made women feel, not just chic and well-accessorized, but happy too. Plus, Kate was an inspiration as a businesswoman. She built a business that was beloved but wasn’t afraid to step away from it all when it stopped bringing her joy. Today, I read the news of her passing after a day exploring the Amalfi Coast, a trusty navy striped, nautical-inspired Kate Spade bag in hand. Her bags have been part of so many of my favorite days. She will be missed.


Noreen Flanagan, Editor-in-Chief, FASHION magazine

One of my first fashion spurges was a pair of quirky lime-green cat eye sunglasses from Kate Spade.  It was 1998 and I had just started working at Flare magazine and I thought I needed up my fashion game! I was in New York for the day on a press trip and I had a little bit of free time to shop. I headed to her Soho store just to look at her bags—but then I fell in love with these glasses. I still have them to this day.


Alison McGill, Editor-in-Chief, Weddingbells magazine

“Kate Spade was one of my first serious designer obsessions and I can thank her for sparking a life-long love of handbags, accessories and everything girly, retro and refined. I had at least 10 of Kate’s iconic purses in the early 90s….I still have most of them and the iconic Sam in black and cherry red were my most treasured. I spent my first pay cheque from my first magazine job out of university on a Sam bag! Kate Spade was a master of branding and under her leadership grew her company into one of the most powerful multi-level labels (accessories, fashion, home) of the 90s. She was truly a modern style icon.”


Julia McCrank, Blogger, Kate Spade Girl

“Kate Spade was my first designer handbag in the late 90’s, and the colorful whimsical designs that turned into a global lifestyle brand has shaped my entire fashionable existence. I try to leave a bit of sparkle wherever I go, and to always dress colorfully.”


Julie Zerbo, founder and editor-in-chief of The Fashion Law

“One of the most incredible things about Kate Spade, the woman and the brand, was how foreshadowing they were in several respects of where the industry was going. For instance, back in the early 1990’s, we did not know that Kate Spade and her brand were leaders in what would become the multi-billion dollar market of accessible luxury. It also was really quite remarkable that her $100 – $400 bags, which were so much more affordable than their high fashion counterparts, were copied with just as much vigor!”