Back in 1993, editor-turned-designer Kate Spade made a splash in the fashion world by turning out a small collection of boxy, utilitarian handbags, each elegantly accented with her name stitched in discreet, lowercase letters. As a result, the simplicity and unabashed refinement of the Spade moniker on those Lilliputian labels has come to define the very foundation on which the designer has since built a fashion empire, one that now, in addition to handbags, includes shoes, clothing, and smart home things, all of which embody the Spade formula of timeless style--a seamless merging of cheerful colors, clean shapes, and well-chosen embellishments. Not bad for a Kansas City-born girl who used to comb vintage stores for fun. Having perfected and expertly marketed her own brand of personal style (one that has famously been counterfeited throughout the world), the designer has emerged with an equally elegant trio of books whose topics Spade has become a virtual authority: Style, Occasions, and Manners.
The packaging, as well as the neatly clipped advice found in Style, is as polished and sunny as the pert designer herself. Spade draws pearls of wisdom from fashion greats like Diana Vreeland and Coco Chanel, and also employs the inspiration of iconic films, books, artists, and design movements. The layout and typography, while vibrant, can be overwhelming at times and her suggestions a bit old-fashioned ("??if you have to wiggle into something, assume it won't flatter you."). But Style still stands out as a treasure in itself. From "forever" clothes like full skirts and jewel-neck sweaters to playing around with color combinations and cocktail rings, Spade has captured a place for herself in the modern fashion vernacular. And Style is a suitably chic way to celebrate her arrival. --Christene Barberich
Kate Spade grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. After graduation she went to Mademoiselle magazine and became senior fashion editor/head of accessories before leaving in 1991. In 1993 she and her boyfriend, now husband, Andy Spade launched kate spade handbags, which has grown exponentially over the past decade and has established Kate Spade as a style icon.