Fashion designer Kate Spade has died in an apparent suicide, according to law enforcement officials. As reported by the Associated Press, Spade was found dead in her Manhattan apartment Tuesday morning. She was 55.
According to officials, a housekeeper found Spade hanging in her bedroom in her Park Avenue apartment. A note was reportedly found at the scene, but officials did not reveal any further details.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri as Kate Noel Brosnahan, Spade is widely known for her eponymous brand, which she founded with her husband, Andy Spade (the brother of actor David Spade), in the 1990s. The couple, who married in 1994, have a 13-year-old daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade.
Kate started her career as an accessories editor at Condé Nast before noticing a gap in the market for clean, simple, modern handbags, she said in a January interview with NPR. After three years of not turning a profit, the brand received an award in 1996 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and its colorful creations were suddenly must-have items.
“I was looking for something that could be less serious, more personal,” she said of her inspiration in a 1999 interview with the Boston Globe. “I also wanted timelessness.”
The company was acquired by Neiman Marcus for $125 million in 2007 and Kate and Andy stepped away from day-to-day operations. Then, it was sold again in 2017 to Coach’s Tapestry Inc. for $2.4 billion. The brand currently has 140 stores in the United States and an additional 175 retail outlets around the world.
A representative for Kate Spade said in a statement, “We at Kate Spade New York just learned of the incredibly sad news that Kate Spade has passed. Although Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand. Kate will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”
Kate launched another fashion brand, Frances Valentine, in 2015 (she officially changed her name to Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade around the same time) which specializes in handbags and shoes.
Many designers and celebrities have taken to social media to share memories of Kate, her iconic designs, and send their condolences.
The CFDA is devastated to hear the news of our friend, colleague, and CFDA member Kate Spade’s tragic passing.
– Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb https://t.co/OPJ0rw37t0
— steven kolb (@stevenkolb) June 5, 2018
My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it. Holding Kate’s family, friends and loved ones in my heart.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) June 5, 2018
Kate Spade’s tragic passing is a painful reminder that we never truly know another’s pain or the burden they carry. If you are struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, please, please seek help. https://t.co/eruSexNoGj
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 5, 2018
I loved @katespadeny’s beautiful and whimsical fashions. So sad. Prayers to her family.
— Savannah Guthrie (@SavannahGuthrie) June 5, 2018
Very saddened to hear about the passing of Kate Spade. Mental illness does not discriminate and can happen to anyone with any circumstances. I hope she has found peace ❤️
— Lucy Hale (@lucyhale) June 5, 2018
Kate Spade was more than a designer. 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.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) June 5, 2018
My heart and prayers go out to Kate Spade and her family. What a wonderful, talented woman who will be dearly missed.
— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) June 5, 2018
I am heartbroken about the news of Kate Spade. I have worn her clothes many, many times. They were colorful, bold, cheerful, and encouraged women to find the twinkly person inside them. You couldn’t walk into her boutiques and not smile. Rest In Peace, Kate.
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) June 5, 2018
Others are sharing pictures of their favorite items in tribute.
Although Kate Spade sold her last shares of Kate Spade New York in 2006, the brand has stayed true to her spirit & the mantra #livecolorfully
I always felt wearing one of her pieces was like putting on some happy. As such, I pulled a few of my own to read the labels…RIP K.S. pic.twitter.com/VVipUGP2Tb
— Zelda Mae (@ZeldaMaeLA) June 5, 2018
RIP Kate Spade. Your brand brought me much delight, even amid bouts of depression. I so wanted to be THAT Kate Spade kinda girl living that carefree, colorful life full w/joyful jaunts, witty bon mots, easy elegance, loveliness & laughter. I guess you did too. Rest In Peace now pic.twitter.com/tYLx56iAOk
— Juliette Yancey (@JulietteYancey) June 5, 2018
— Lexa Caper (@catbirdsuite) June 5, 2018
my one Kate Spade item is the dress I wore at my wedding. it made me feel like a magical Jewish Audrey Hepburn & I’ve been running my hands over it in my closet today, thinking about how we never know what making beautiful things might cost us pic.twitter.com/FVmqocNddg
— Rachel Mennies (@rmennies) June 5, 2018