Last month the fashion world was stunned by the tragic news that the beloved accessories designer and icon in her own right, Kate Spade, had passed away at the age of 55. What was even more appalling was the fact that she had taken her own life.
Kate Spade brought so much joy to the world through her bold, colourful and classy designs. The designer began gaining recognition in the mid-90s when label mania was all the rage. If you flipped through any major fashion magazine at the beginning of the decade you would have seen the logos of European designers like Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada or Versace plastered on nearly every page.
The purses made by these designers were often gaudy, impractical and easily identifiable with monogrammed logos. Spade’s designs offered a stark and refreshing contrast. To this day, the bags are bright and fun but utilitarian. They are still identifiable but not excessive. Each purse has a simple label sewn on the exterior of the bag bearing the designer’s name and a deck of cards style spade.
Kate Spade brought an American sensibility and vintage allure to the handbag market and people could not get enough. Her bags were not cheap, typically running from $100 to $400 but definitely more affordable than their European counterparts, which often did not sell for prices below the thousands.
She opened her first brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan’s popular shopping district, Soho, in 1996. Her eponymous accessories quickly became a status symbol for the classy, young professional woman. She was able to offer metropolitan women something they had wanted for years: affordable luxury.
Fashion experts took note of her contributions to American fashion as well. In 1995, she was awarded the Rising Talent by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
In 1997, the CFDA selected her to be the Accessory Designer of the Year. In 1999, she was given the title of Best Accessories Designer at the Accessories Council ACE Awards ceremony. She was additionally awarded the brand of the year award at the ACE Awards in 2014.
On top of her contributions to fashion, Kate Spade used her spare time to promote economic equality for women through the Kate Spade & Company Foundation. According to their mission statement, they are “dedicated to empowering low-income New York City women to find a trade (their own business, a career path or a skill set- not just a job) that will support them and their families and create positive ripple effects in their communities.”
It’s hard to believe that someone who had such a well-rounded life could suffer from depression.
Even the people in her close circle were stunned by the news of her death. The day after the news broke, her husband and business partner, Andy Spade, revealed in a statement to the New York Times that the designer had been battling severe depression for the past six years. In fact, he had spoken to her on the phone on the night of her passing. “She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives,” he said. “There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock.”
It is a common misconception that successful, wealthy people are somehow immune to depression. If they have access to the best doctors and medications, how could they possibly be depressed? Unfortunately, the one thing money can not buy is happiness.
If you or a loved one are suffering from depression. Here are some things to focus on while combatting it:
- BALANCED DIET
The expression “You are what you eat” holds some truth. You cannot necessarily eat your way out of depression but eating nutritional food has a major impact on your brain function. Avoiding things like sugar and caffeine is extremely important. The “sugar rush” and the subsequent crash you get from eating candy or a donut is caused by a surge and slump in your blood sugar which affects the blood supply to the brain. That’s why you feel hyper and excitable after you first eat something sugar-y or drink a coffee then irritable or lethargic once it wears off.
Exercise is a natural high. It increases “feel-good” chemicals like endorphins as well as serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. Even just 30 to 60 minutes of light exercise three to five days a week can have a positive impact on your mental health.
Some good introductory aerobic activities include:
Getting proper sleep is crucial to overcoming depression. Too much or not enough can affect levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones in the brain. This causes impaired thinking and has a negative effect on emotional regulation. The average human needs eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to maintain good mental health.
- QUALITY TIME
Loneliness and depression are often linked. When you’re suffering from depression, feelings of isolation can make everything seem worse.
This is why it’s crucial to spend time with loved ones and check up on the people in your life. It’s even better if you spend time together exercising or making a healthy meal.
Mental illness does not discriminate and can happen to anyone. Nobody is exempt due to social status or financial success. Additionally, just because someone brings someone else joy doesn’t mean they have joy within themselves.
Despite Kate Spade’s coveted Park Avenue apartment, her whimsical, optimistic designs and cheerful demeanor, she still chose to end her own life. This goes to show that depression is not always visible. It is important to show your friends and family you care as you can not always tell what people are going through. The same goes for demonstrating kindness to strangers.