Fashion designer Kate Spade found dead in New York

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Law enforcement officials say body of Spade, 55, was found in apartment on Park Avenue and a note was discovered at the scene

The handbag and fashion designer Kate Spade has been found dead in New York in an apparent suicide at her home, according to law enforcement officials.

Officials say the body of the 55-year-old businesswoman was found by housekeeping staff inside her Park Avenue apartment at about 10.20am on Tuesday. They say she left a note at the scene. The officials were not authorized to divulge details of the investigation and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

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New York City coroners office personnel at Spades Park Avenue building on Tuesday. Photograph: Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

It is not known when she died, and the citys medical examiner will perform an autopsy. Tributes to the designer and her signature jaunty but practical bags began flooding on to social media almost immediately after the news became public, many from women who recalled poignantly how her distinctive style had brightened their youth.

Spade created a line of sleek handbags in the early 1990s that caused a smash on the world fashion scene.

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Kate Spade poses with handbags and shoes from her collection on 13 May 2004. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Her brand, Kate Spade New York, has more than 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the US and more than 175 shops internationally. She sold the last of her shares in that concern in 2016 and launched a new fashion brand called Frances Valentine. She changed her name to Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade, she said in an NPR interview this year.

Spade, who was born Kate Brosnahan in Kansas City, Missouri, launched her company with husband Andy in their New York apartment in 1993. She walked away from the company in 2007, a year after it was acquired from the Neiman Marcus Group for $125m by the company then known as Liz Claiborne Inc.

We are all devastated by todays tragedy, her family said in a statement through a spokesman. 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.

Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, paid tribute to the fashion designer via Twitter.

My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it. Holding Kates family, friends and loved ones in my heart.

Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton)

My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it. Holding Kates family, friends and loved ones in my heart.

June 5, 2018

Clinton also retweeted a post that said: A reminder that success does not equal happiness. Depression does not care about your age, status or bank account.

Julia Curry, a spokeswoman for the Kate Spade New York company, said that Kate will be dearly missed and our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.

The future designer studied at Arizona State University, where she was majoring in journalism but also working at a department store, where she met her future husband and business partner Andy Spade, in 1983. They moved to New York in the mid-80s, where Spade started her career as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine. She also began designing her own handbags and in 1993 launched Kate Spade Handbags. With their compact and simple but jaunty styles, often in bright colors, they were a swift hit and she began garnering awards.

The trade association Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) website says in a profile of her: She saw a need for practical, stylish handbags and decided to create a smart, well-edited collection. She and Andy began the company Kate Spade the company grew to hundreds of stores internationally.

She expanded into footwear, glasses, perfume, cosmetics and, later, home decor and homewares.

Spade started her company based on six shapes of bags that she thought every working woman needed. It created a smash.

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Kate Spades designs at New York Fashion Week in February of 2017. Photograph: Kelly Taub/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

I grew up in the midwest, where you have to have it [a fashion item] because you like it, not because youre supposed to have it, she explained to the Associated Press in a 2004 interview. For our customers, fashion is in the right place in their life. Its an adornment, not an obsession.

She won multiple awards from the CFDA and was named a giant of design by House Beautiful magazine as well as being inducted into Americas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.

On Tuesday morning, Spade was found unresponsive in her bedroom. Her husband was in the house at the time, according to law enforcement officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

The New York police department chief of detectives, Dermot Shea, said that evidence, including the state of the apartment and the presence of a note, pointed to a tragic suicide.

Spade and her husband had a daughter in 2005. They sold control of the Kate Spade business in 2006, although the brand itself endured. Coach, now known as Tapestry, bought the Kate Spade brand last year for $2.4bn, seeking to broaden its appeal.

She is survived by her husband and daughter.

In a statement posted on the CFDAs web site, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, and the associations chief executive, Steven Kolb, wrote: The CFDA is devastated to hear the news of our friend, colleague, and CFDA member Kate Spades tragic passing. She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories. We want to honor her life and her major contribution to the fashion business and express our most sincere condolences to the family.

In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/05/kate-spade-dead-latest-news-death-designer

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