When I was 24 years old in 2008, I married the love of my life. I was just barely out of college. I had no idea where I wanted to go in life. The world was ahead of me and my husband was by my side.
We were eight years deep in a relationship at that point, so we really knew each other deeply. We were already partners in life. And while I struggled to figure out even the starting place of a career or trajectory, I knew that I wanted to be a really amazing wife while trying to figure out just who the hell I was and who I wanted to be.
No, it didn't sound revolutionary, but it was significant and really quite profound. As we figured out life, I wanted to strive to be a really great partner, a really great wife. And this is where my Kate Spade story begins...
I don't remember the where or how (because Lord knows we didn't have smartphones then) but I came across three books: STYLE, MANNERS, OCCASIONS, all by Kate Spade. While I recognized the name from the cute preppy handbags my girlfriends carried in the early 2000's, it was that first flip of the pages filled with brightly colored illustrations, lists, mixed typography-- I had found a lighthouse for a really significant time in my life.
These three little glossy books were published by Simon & Schuster in the early aughts. With pages of travel playlists, movies and art of style, how to throw amazing last minute parties, this was the 21st century guide to living a beautiful life (no matter what your resources are).
While I never knew the woman, my Kate Spade presented alternative avenues to style, joy and life. And each path was paved with thoughtfulness, humor, a heart of service and a lasting impression.
I remember throwing the most amazing impromptu parties at our little rental house, hanging lanterns in our car port, playing bossa nova, making cocktails and canapés. Setting up card tables underneath Christmas lit magnolia trees. It was improvisation, and entirely inspired by the spark I gained from those three little tomes.
To be honest, Kate Spade is probably the reason I collect caftans from all my travels, wear comically oversized vintage inspired sunglasses and am not afraid to wear a Turkish towel turban on my head all day after a dip in the pool.
To me, she was an example of both femininity and powerful feminism, a trailblazer and a total inspiration to a young woman trying to figure out who she is.
As I sit here wearing a long Mexican embroidered dress and a towel turban on my head, I am going to play a Stan Getz record, drink sparkling water out of a fancy glass and page through my Kate Spade books again, grateful to the woman who inspired me to figure out who I am, what my voice is and how I express my style through all parts of my life. Cheers to you, Kate.
And I just want to add, upon writing this news reports have confirmed apparent suicide. If you yourself are ever feeling more darkness than is safe, don't hesitate to reach out to someone. There is always help available, even if it feels inaccessible to you.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
The Birmingham Crisis Center: 205-323-7782
You can even call me personally at Club Duquette 205-202-4647