Fashion Designer and Store Owner Stephanie Doucette Dies at 52

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

The founder of Douchette NYC and Petite Doucette was a popular member of the tight-knit Cold Spring, N.Y. community. Overlooking the Hudson River, the Putnam County town is a frequent day trip destination for city dwellers, who are up for hiking and Main Street shopping. With less than 2,000 year-round residents, Cold Spring’s homey feel and low-key and unhurried speed is a welcome retreat for many daytrippers. Many locals were leaving flowers in her memory outside of her Main Street store and were congregating 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 the Clinton Funeral Home. Doucette’s husband and relatives could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday. Media requests to her company were not immediately acknowledged.

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

Stephanie Doucette
Stephanie Doucette

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

People’s Revolution founder Kelly Cutrone said Thursday, “Everything that she did was upcycled. 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 manufactured her collections in New York City’s Garment District since 2005. The company touts on its site, “We know every person involved in making each garment- from development to production- and fairly compensate everyone involved, with pleasure.”

Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009
Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009

The sustainability-minded company specializes in sourcing vintage goods, deadstock and other remnants to limit its carbon footprint and provides one-of-a-kind designs for customers. That ethos was said to be in line with many of the Brooklyn transplants and other former urbanites, who had relocated to Cold Spring.

Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009
Doucette Duvall RTW Spring 2009

Doucette, who grew up in Fairfield County, Conn., once explained that she loved to build wardrobes and to encourage people to get dressed everyday. “I rescue goods so I use what’s already made and seek out luxurious fabrics, trimmimgs and notions with longevity in mind always.” she once explained.

David Kimelman, co-owner of the Burkelman brand and a shop neighbor to Doucette said that “purposeful approach to fashion was realized, and made accessible, by the fact that she was such a stellar stylist, who could also design.”

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

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

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

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

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

Doucette is believed to have died of a heart attack and was said to be found by a postal worker delivering her mail in her store, according to Cutrone. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed. Responding to a media request that had been acknowledged by the Putnam County coroner’s office Thursday, Laureve Wilson, who serves as the confidential secretary, said that autopsy reports are deemed confidential material in Putnam County. Therefore, 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 any 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 p.m. EST.

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