The fashion world was jolted Tuesday with the news that designer Kate Spade, who made her name with chic handbags, died in an apparent suicide at the age of 55. Spade was found hanged in the bedroom of her Park Avenue apartment in New York City by housekeeping staff at about 10:20am, the AP reports. She used a scarf, reports NBC News. Her husband and business partner, Andy Spade, was reportedly home at the time, but their 13-year-old daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade, was at school. Police officials tell the AP that Spade left a note telling her daughter that it wasn't her fault. Related coverage:
- The start: CBS reports that Spade was born Katherine Brosnahan in Kansas City in 1962. She went on to meet husband and future business partner Andy Spade (the brother of actor David Spade) at Arizona State University, notes TMZ. After working at Mademoiselle magazine in the 1980s, she launched Kate Spade handbags with Andy Spade in 1993, and they married in 1994 as the company was on its way to becoming a global sensation.
- 6 designs: Spade began with six basic shapes of bags. "I grew up in the Midwest, where you have to have [a fashion item] because you like it, not because you're supposed to have it," Spade told the AP in 2004. The company eventually expanded to shoes, luggage, stationery, and other accessories. CNN has a 2002 interview in which Spade talks about her early years. Her mom was her fashion role model.
- Fond memories: Women are sharing stories of their first Kate Spade bag, and Harper's Bazaar rounds them up. One example: "My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college," tweeted Chelsea Clinton. "I still have it."
- 2 other suicides: CNN notes that Spade is the third big-name designer to commit suicide by hanging in recent years: Alexander McQueen did so in 2010 and L'Wren Scott in 2014.
- Family statement: “We are all devastated by today’s tragedy,” says a statement from the Spade family, per the New York Times. “We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”
- 10-year hiatus: Spade left her company in 2007, a year after it was acquired from the Neiman Marcus Group for $125 million by the company then known as Liz Claiborne Inc. She spent the next decade focused on raising her daughter, reports People. In 2017, Coach, now known as Tapestry, bought the brand for $2.4 billion. Spade and her husband had started a new handbag company, Frances Valentine.
- Actually not Spade: Spade changed her last name to Valentine to help differentiate her new company from her original one, Business of Fashion reported in 2016.
- Lena Dunham: "Kate Spade was more than a designer," tweeted the actress. "She had a quirky visual language that captivated Bat Mitzvah girls and artists alike. She was also a staple of NYC who spread good will. My heart breaks for her family. Thank you, Kate, from one of the millions you made feel beautiful."
(Read more Kate Spade