Fashion Designer and Store Owner Stephanie Doucette Dies at 52

Fashion designer and boutique owner Stephanie Doucette died on Monday at the age of 52.

Founders Douchette NYC and Petite Doucette were popular with the tight-knit community of Cold Spring, NY. Overlooking the Hudson River, the town of Putnam County is a frequent day trip destination for city residents, ready for strolling and Main Street shopping. With less than 2,000 year-round residents, Cold Spring’s homey feel and low-key, no-fuss pace appeal to many day-trippers. Many locals were leaving flowers in her memory outside her store on Main Street and were gathering there Thursday, according to one local store owner, who requested anonymity.

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A celebration of her life is still being planned and will be handled by Clinton Funeral Home. Doucette’s husband and relatives could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday. Media requests to her company were not immediately acknowledged.

Her company announced Doucette’s death in an Instagram post that said, “Stephanie was the brightest light in this community. She brought beauty to everything she touched in this world. Words cannot express the size of this huge hole that has been left since her death. Arrangements are still being made, so an update will be posted as soon as possible. For now, love to Mark, the kids, her family, and her friends & in the meantime, in honor of Stephanie, dress up and bring sunshine every day.”

Stephanie DoucetteStephanie Doucette

Stephanie Doucette

Earlier in her career, Doucette worked as a store manager at the multi-brand contemporary sportswear store Intermix on Fifth Avenue in New York City. She then started at Doucette Duvall with Annabet Duvall. The pair was nominated for the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star award for ready-to-wear in 2009. The founders later separated, and Doucette started her own company.

People’s Revolution founder Kelly Cutrone said Thursday, “Everything she did was supercharged. She was just a lovely sweet woman. She was always bringing fashion to Cold Spring, which was kind of funny.”

Although the designer was based with her husband and children in Cold Spring, she has made her collections in New York City’s Garment District since 2005. The company says on its site, “We know everyone involved in the making of each garment – from development to production – and give fair compensation to everyone involved, with pleasure.”

Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009

Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009

The sustainability-minded company specializes in sourcing vintage goods, dead stock and other remnants to limit carbon footprints and offer customers one-of-a-kind designs. That ethos was said to resonate with many of the Brooklyn transplants and other ex-urbanites, who moved to Cold Spring.

Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009

Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009

Doucette, who grew up in Fairfield County, Conn., once explained that she loved building wardrobes and encouraging people to dress everyday. “I salvage items so I use what has already been made and I always look for precious fabrics, trims and notions with longevity.” she explained once.

David Kimelman, co-owner of the Burkelman brand and a shop neighbor of Doucette’s, said that “because it’s such a prestigious style, one can also design, it took a purposeful approach to fashion and made it accessible.”

Kimelman said, “She knew how to make the people who wore her clothes feel special, beautiful and confident. Her extravagant personality could be seen and felt in her pieces, be it through the bold colorful patterns in her fabrics, the playful silhouettes, or an oversized bow effortlessly styled.”

Heidi Bender, who owns another Main Street business, Split Rock Books, with her husband Michael, described Doucette as “a real light in this community, and a wonderful person who was always kind and supportive.” One of Split Rock Books’ earliest customers since it opened six years ago, Doucette has been steadfast in her support, Bender said.

Parker Posey in Doucette Duvall.Parker Posey in Doucette Duvall.

Parker Posey in Doucette Duvall.

“She brought something truly unique to Main Street. I’m not exactly a stylish person but she knew how to make everyone feel beautiful and comfortable,” said Bender, “Cold Spring just won’t be the same without her.”

Photographer Alix Brown, who shot a look book with Doucette three years ago, recalled how much fun they had working together. “She showed me around Cold Spring. She has transformed that street into a special place to shop for unique items. She had a gift for dressing you to make you feel great.”

Doucette is believed to have died of a heart attack and a postal worker who was delivering her mail at his store, who died, according to Cutrone. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed. Responding to a media request acknowledged by the Putnam County coroner’s office Thursday, Laureve Wilson, who serves as confidential secretary, said autopsy reports are considered confidential in Putnam County. As such, they are exempt from public and media requests under New York state’s Freedom of Information Law, Wilson said.

An investigation into Doucette’s death by the Cold Spring Police Department found no evidence of foul play, according to commanding officer Matthew Jackson, who declined to comment further. The investigation is now closed.

Doucette is survived by her husband and three children. The names of her other relatives were not immediately known.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated May 10 at 5:40 pm EST.

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