Fashion designer Kate Spade found dead in apartment, police confirm suicide

New York: Fashion designer Kate Spade, one of the biggest names in American fashion industry, was found dead on Tuesday in her New York residence after committing suicide, police said. Celebrity website TMZ said the designer, 55, — especially known for her sleek handbags — hanged herself in her Park Avenue apartment.

A police spokeswoman confirmed Spade committed suicide but told AFP the exact circumstances of her death were not yet clear. Tributes to Spade poured in — from celebrities, the fashion world and everyday women who admired her quintessential American style.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America was “devastated” at the news. “She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories,” said a statement from CFDA board chairman Diane von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb.

Spade — a Missouri native who first worked as a journalist, including a stint as accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine — launched her eponymous fashion label in 1993 with her husband Andy and the help of outside investors.

Her cheerful use of bright colors and prints proved a hit with career women. The brand, initially sold in several New York stores, opened its flagship in the city’s Soho neighborhood in 1996.

Her designs represented the New York aesthetic — a mix of modern and classic. It was so associated with the city that she eventually added its name to her label, Kate Spade New York.
Her most famous handbag was the “Sam” — a black mid-size rectangular bag. It was relaunched this year by the label in new prints and colors. Beyond the label’s signature handbags, Spade was also known for shoes.

In 1999, Spade ceded a majority stake in her company to high-end department store chain Neiman Marcus for $34 million. NM then sold the label to textiles giant Liz Claiborne. Spade then sold the last of her shares in the company in the mid-2000s for another $59 million, and was no longer directly associated with the management of the company bearing her name.

In the past few years, Spade — born Katherine Brosnahan — had launched a new ready-to-wear and accessories label, Frances Valentine. In 2017, Coach bought the Kate Spade label, the last remnant of Liz Claiborne, in a deal worth $2.4 billion.

Here’s how America’s who’s who reacted to her demise:

(With inputs from AFP)