A Bit of Color Died This Week

Exuberant, Joyous, Fashion Designer Made Color Alive

By Mark Woodman, Mark Woodman Design+Color llc

Kate Spade Yellow ToteThe news of designer Kate Spade’s death is sad. Not only because of the alleged circumstances, which are terribly sad, but that we lost someone so energetic and with who it always seemed would be great fun to hang out.

My first thought was, “Oh no, a bit of color died today.”

Kate Spade was an exuberant proponent of color. Not only her handbags, but shoes, clothing, ads, stores.  All of it was an explosion of color and joy. Many a time I have referenced Kate Spade when discussing colors, especially if I knew the client would grasp it. Explaining, ”This combination of Navy and Kelly Green has a Kate Spade vibe.” Or, “Think of this combination the way Kate Spade would, Black, White and Hot Pink are a party!” 90% of the time, it got a smile and knowing nod.

The design of her original totes became so iconic that when I was working on designs for a new paint sample architectural tote I said to the vendors, “Make it like a Kate Spade bag, EVERYONE will want to carry our paint colors around!” (Sadly, that was deemed too expensive an aesthetic.)

It was one of the few designer lines that seemed to get the essence of fun. This was fun of family, of friends, of a joyous moment in time.

But that is darkened now. There was a suicide note, the contents of which I don’t know. I do wonder, however, what sadness was under the joy. How deep was it to become overwhelming?

I never met her, nor did I expect to do so, but I remember her beginnings, the expansion of her lines, the experience of her shops, and the happiness her products brought to her customers.

A former Mademoiselle colleague of hers described her in this way, “She was human champagne.

What a wonderful way for someone to think of you, as “human champagne.”

I will think of her when I see exuberant, joyous color in fashion. Because even though my first thoughts were that some color died today, I’ll rejoice her time here because she made color live.


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