- Kate Spade was found dead in an apparent suicide in her apartment in New York on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. She was 55.
- She leaves behind her husband, Andy, and a 13-year-old daughter, Frances Beatrix.
- Kate Spade launched her namesake business in 1993 and worked with her husband to grow it into a million-dollar business before it was sold to Neiman Marcus in 2006.
The famed handbag designer Kate Spade was found dead in an apparent suicide on Tuesday morning in her Upper East Side apartment, The Associated Press reported, citing law-enforcement officials. She was 55.
The New York Police Department chief of detectives, Dermot Shea, told the New York Post that Spade left a note.
“At this point, there was a note left,” he said. “The contents of that note, as well as the physical state of the apartment and the comments of the witness, lend to the credibility that it is an apparent suicide.”
She leaves behind her husband, Andy, and a 13-year old daughter, Frances Beatrix.
Kate launched her namesake brand in 1993, a year before she married her husband. Over the following years, the couple ran the business together out of their apartment in Tribeca, transforming it into a $US27 million business by 1998.
“This is exhausting. We can’t manage all this,” Andy told CNN Money in 2003, recalling the early years of the brand. “We talked about paying off all our debt and closing the business down. But I had to believe in it. I couldn’t blink. If I blinked, she’d fall. I had to keep her hopes up. We got to a point where we couldn’t do it alone.”
While the couple eventually sold the business to Neiman Marcus in 2006, their love of handbags didn’t end there. Years later, after the birth of their daughter, they made a second foray into fashion, launching Frances Valentine, a handbag-and-shoe company, in 2015. Kate also changed her name to Kate Valentine.
The Spade family released a statement on Tuesday: “We are all devastated by today’s tragedy. 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.”
Here’s more about Kate Spade’s career and the history of the brand:
Kate Spade was the accessories editors at Mademoiselle magazine before she left to set up her own handbag company in 1993.Andy Spade, her boyfriend at the time, encouraged her to set up the business. The brand name was a mashup of their names. The couple married in 1994.
“The reason I started making handbags was because of Andy’s suggestion,” Kate Spade told CNN Money in 2003. “After moving through a number of positions, I had been promoted to senior fashion editor after six years at Mademoiselle magazine. I wasn’t sure the next step was one I wanted to make. Andy just said, ‘You know, I think we should start something.'”
Source: CNN Money
Andy, who was in advertising at the time, quit his job and joined the business full time. Over the next few years, the couple built up the business out of their loft in Tribeca.
“We had so many boxes in our 1,800-square-foot loft during shipping time that we had a path from the bedroom to the bathroom,” Andy told CNN Money. “It was hot. We had no air conditioning, and it was August. We had put everything into this. I put in my 401(k) money … We didn’t know for sure that the business was going to work.”
The brand became as popular and exclusive as legacy designer brands such as Gucci. Sales jumped to $US1.5 million in 1995 from $US100,000 in 1993, then to $US27 million in 1998.
“The purses became something of a handshake,” the Wall Street Journal fashion reporter Christina Binkley told Racked in 2016. “When two women met and saw they were both holding Kate Spade bags, they’d nod at each other and understand they were on the same page. It was very chic.”
Spade went on to win several awards. She was named “America’s new fashion talent in accessories” by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1996. Two years later, the CFDA named her the best accessory designer of the year.
In 2002, Glamour named her the woman of the year.
In an interview with the magazine that year, she said: “I hope that people remember me not just as a good businesswoman but as a great friend – and a heck of a lot of fun.”
The Spades sold a 56% stake in the business to Neiman Marcus in 1999 for $US33.6 million. By 2006, they had parted from the brand completely, selling their remaining stake for $US59 million.
One week later, Neiman Marcus sold the entire brand to Liz Claiborne for $US124 million.
The brand was acquired by Coach — which is now Tapestry — for $US2.4 billion last year.
Kate spent the following few years bringing up her daughter, Frances Beatrix, who was born in 2005. Kate and Andy then ventured back into fashion in 2015, launching Frances Valentine, which sells shoes and handbags.
Handbags from Frances Valentine cost about $US200.
In a recent video posted on Frances Valentine’s website, Spade talked about where she found inspiration.
“People always ask me, ‘Where do you find inspiration?’ and I think that’s a very difficult question because I think everywhere… I find it in everyday life,” she said.
She added jokingly: “The most fun thing about what I do is about working with friends and family. I would say the most challenging part is working with friends and family.”
On Tuesday, the Kate Spade brand’s Facebook page posted a tribute to its founder and former owner.
Remembering Kate Spade:
- ‘You don’t know me but I know you’: After Kate Spade’s death, people are sharing how the designer touched their lives through fashion
- Kate Spade shared how she wanted to be remembered in a 2002 interview
- Kate Spade was totally detached from her namesake brand
- Kate Spade leaves behind her husband and business partner. Here’s what we know about their relationship.
- Kate Spade’s fans are reacting to her apparent suicide with reminders about mental health
- Celebrities and fashion industry figures are reacting to Kate Spade’s apparent suicide
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