Growing up, my favorite part of making new friends was inviting them over and having them meet my sister. “Your sister is so cool!” they would exclaim when Kathryn left the room, all of us patiently waiting for her return. I was so proud of her, so in awe of her, so lucky to have her as a sister. For years to come, I would see the glow in people’s eyes the first time they met Kathryn. She had a way of making everyone feel special, heard, and important. She made friends everywhere she went, and cherished each one. She helped many people through their hard times. Despite always wearing a smile and lighting up the room, my sister faced many demons of her own. Kathryn fought anorexia nervosa and bipolar disorder for over half of her life, a battle that she unfortunately lost on September 5th, 2013. Even when she was unable to help herself, Kathryn dedicated herself to helping others. She was open about both her triumphs and her struggles with anyone who wanted to listen. She aided numerous friends and peers through recovery, and was well known for always lending a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. Since her passing my family has received countless testimonials from people she met – through treatment, high school, even connections that only existed over the Internet – about the positive, and life-changing impact that Kathryn had on their lives. Kathryn was a talented writer, an opera trained singer, an accomplished actor, a profitable jeweler, and a fashion icon. She used fashion as an outlet, as a positive way to cope. All over our hometown of Fairfield, Connecticut, Kathryn was known for her outrageous and unique style, and for never repeating an outfit. But what Kathryn loved even more than clothing were shoes. She loved shoes because your shoe size is something you’re born with, not something that can be changed. She loved being able to accessorize a part of her body that had nothing to do with weight. Kathryn’s love of shoes began at a young age. From trips with our mother to StrideRite as a toddler to trying on mom’s patent leather pumps as a young teenager, Kathryn’s passion developed as she grew up. Over the course of her life, Kathryn collected over 200 pairs of shoes, 150 pairs of which are authentic Jeffery Campbells. For a year and a half, my mother and I contemplated what to do with her collection of shoes, as they sat in boxes in the basement, unused and unseen. We are so excited to have partnered with Project HEAL and Fashion Project to instate a memorial fundraiser in honor of Kathryn’s life and legacy. Through Fashion Project, Kathryn’s legendary shoe collection will be available for sale and auction. The profits of these sales will support Project HEAL, a charity that provides scholarships for treatment to those suffering from eating disorders. The funds that we raise for Project HEAL will create a scholarship for eating disorder treatment in Kathryn’s name. My sister Kathryn loved life and loved people. She had more compassion and empathy for those around her than anyone I have ever met. It broke her heart to see people consumed by the trials of eating disorders that she fought daily. I know that she would want her legacy to include raising awareness about the terrible realities of eating disorders, and raising funds for those who are struggling.
“It’s a form of visible expression. It’s an art for me. I’m inspired by emotions and feelings and the world around me. When I see styling that I love, I emulate it with a personal twist. It’s my way of taking in what inspires me and making it personal so that when I put it out into the world, it can do the same for others.” – Kathryn Laudadio