Meet Kate Spade, who stood for American women in fashion and beyond

There is a lot of talk these days about the lack of women at the top of fashion brands — the statistics are terrible, the gender imbalance striking.

It is one of the reasons Kate Spade, the designer who was found dead in her home on Tuesday morning, was so important to so many of us. She represented not just a terrific talent who built an idea about handbags into what became a billion-dollar brand, but a critical figure in the continuum of women who have defined fashion in the United States: designers who thought about what.....

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