I'll Always Remember The Time I Was Given A Kate Spade

Other bags come and go, but a Kate Spade is eternal.

To own a Kate Spade is to not just have a bag, dress, bangle, or pair of high heels. It’s an escape, a reminder of who you can be, an unforgettable memory.

As a fashion-obsessed teenager, after many years of spending afternoons lusting after the iconic bucket bags, novelty purses, and totes on the internet, buying one at age 17 wasn’t just another purchase, it was a rite of passage.

I saved from my after school job, poured over the website for many more hours, and made my plan. The occasion (read: excuse) was my year 12 formal, a night I was only really looking forward to for getting to carry this bag. The bag in question was a clutch of 3D holographic fabric that looked like a digital clock - when you tilted it, the numbers on the front would flick between 11:59 and 12:00. It was called the ‘Stroke of Midnight’ clutch.

Very Cinderella, and appropriately, pure magic.

It’s easy to forget that back then, it wasn’t so easy to get the bag (or anything) of your dreams -- my Kate Spade couldn’t be ordered with the simple click of a button that would bring it to your doorstep, it had to come about with a bit of luck. It could only be bought in store -- David Jones stocked a small range of dinner plates, but nothing else, and I’d visit the display when I happened to be in the city -- all of which were only in North America.

Kate Spade died June 5 in New York, aged 55. Her death has devastated the design world. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Luckily for me, my uncle and aunt were going to New York City on holiday, and were given strict instructions, photos, and of course, the hard-earned money. It was a bit of a nail-biting wait -- what if it was sold out? But they returned, and I got my clutch.

Being handed the Kelly green shopping bag -- carefully packed into a suitcase by them, knowing the importance of this -- and carefully unwrapping the tissue paper to find my shiny, magical prize inside wasn’t just an extremely exciting moment to my 17-year-old self. It felt like growing up, a moment that would be remembered far, far into the future.

Spring coloured handbags on display at the Kate Spade boutique within Macy's in New York. (Image: Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images)

This type of personal connection, a piece that lasts long enough to tell its story in the future, is something that is sadly becoming less common. What’s lost in the never-ending churn of fast fashion is connection -- bags, clothes, and shoes that last beyond a season, timeless and durable enough to be pulled out years later and have the same sparkle as the day you bought them.

Kate Spade’s designs, injecting sparkle, wonder, and whimsy into everyday life, marked occasions for countless people around the world, who have their own versions of my story -- whether that’s bangles given for graduations, wedding shoes, watches for milestone birthdays, or business card holders for a leap of faith in a career.

Every single story is unique, but all speak of the same feeling of celebration, a moment when some of that bright optimism and glamour could leave an indelible mark for evermore. Kate Spade’s vision wasn’t just an escape, but a reminder for what could be.

For many young women, a Kate Spade handbag isn't just a casual purchase, it's a rite of passage.  (Image: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

I still use the magical clutch bag that I dreamed of after school as a 17-year-old, that arrived in the special shopping bag and tissue paper, that makes every occasion one to remember. Recently I used it for a wedding, where the uncle and aunt who brought it back in their suitcase years ago exclaimed that they still remember buying it.

Other bags may come and go, but this one is eternal. Every handbag told a story. But the story that came out of New York yesterday about Kate Spade’s death was a story I didn’t want to hear.

Featured Image: Kate Spade