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Posted: June 05, 2018

Who is Kate Spade: Fashion designer found dead at 55

Who is Kate Spade?

By Kelcie Willis, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

NEW YORK —

Kate Spade, the fashion designer who co-founded fashion design house Kate Spade New York, was found dead in New York in an apparent suicide, according to law enforcement. She was 55 years old.

>> Read more trending news 

In 1993, Spade, then a former Mademoiselle magazine accessories editor, set out to make the perfect handbag. From there, her company only grew. The brand has more than 140 retail and outlet stores nationwide and more than 175 shops abroad.

Here are some things to know about Spade.

The first Kate Spade shop opened in 1996

In 1996, the first Kate Spade New York shop opened in New York. The first bag, a black, boxy waterproof handbag called the Sam tote, was sold in 1993.

Spade founded the company with her husband, Andy Spade

Andy Spade, the brother of comedian David Spade, co-founded Kate Spade New York in 1993. By 1999, they sold a majority stake of the brand to Neiman Marcus Group, which was later sold to Fifth & Pacific, formerly Liz Claiborne, in 2006. In 2014, Fifth & Pacific changed its name to Kate Spade & Company.

The Spades sold the company in 2007

“When we sold the company in 2007, it was really to focus on our family. It really was. It was a grind. I had just had a baby,” Spade told CNBC in a 2016 interview, referring to her daughter, Frances Beatrix.

“Creatively, I felt like we had completed our task,” Andy Spade said.

She founded another fashion company, Frances Valentine

Along with her husband, Spade created Frances Valentine, a new accessories company that sells shoes and handbags directly online and through some retailers. The accessories from the company are considered more mature than Kate Spade New York accessories. The company is named after Spade’s two grandfathers.


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Amy Sussman/Getty Images for eBay/Getty Images

Who is Kate Spade: Fashion designer found dead at 55

Amy Sussman/Getty Images for eBay/Getty Images

Who is Kate Spade: Fashion designer found dead at 55

Designer Kate Spade pictured in 2007. Spade was found dead in New York in 2018. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for eBay)

Fashion designer Kate Spade dies

Fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead Tuesday in her New York City apartment, The Associated Press reported. She was 55.

>> Read more trending news

Unidentified law enforcement sources told WCBS-TV that Spade was found dead of an apparent suicide.

Officials told the AP that housekeeping staff found Spade hanging in her Manhattan apartment around 10:20 a.m. She had left a note, officials said.

>> Kate Spade: Celebrities, fans react to iconic designer’s death

Spade created a line of sleek handbags in 1993. Her company, Kate Spade New York, opened its first store in 1996 in New York City. The fashion brand has more than 140 retail and outlet stores nationwide and more than 175 shops abroad.

>> Photos: Kate Spade through the years

Officials with the brand confirmed Spade’s passing in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.

“Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly heartbreaking time,” the statement said. “We honor all the beauty she brought into this world.”

Spade was born in 1962 as Katherine Brosnahan. She was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and dreamed of being a journalist, NPR reported in a 2017 episode of “How I Built This.” She studied at Arizona State University, where she met her future husband, Andy Spade. She graduated from the university in 1985 with a degree in journalism and, eight years later, launched Kate Spade, according to the New York Daily News.

>> Who is Andy Spade, husband of Kate Spade?

Kate Spade told NPR that she set out to create the perfect handbag because at the time, “bags were too complicated.”

“We were doing something different, which was really to our advantage,” she said.

The Spades sold Kate Spade New York in 2007, according to CNBC.

>> Who is Kate Spade: Fashion designer found dead at 55

Friends and fans took to social media to mourn the fashion maven.

“’I believed that I could, so I did,’” fashion designer Kenneth Cole wrote in a tweet remembering Spade. “She alone didn’t change the handbag world but she was an inspiring accessory. #KateSpade #RIP”

  Photos: Notable deaths 2018
Photos: Notable deaths 2018

AP Photo/Debra Reid, file/AP

Photos: Notable deaths 2018

  Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has died at 65 from cancer
  Pro golfer Bruce Lietzke dies of brain cancer
  Actress Pamela Gidley, of ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me,’ dead at 52
  Fashion designer Kate Spade dies
  Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey dies 
  Musician Charles Neville of The Neville Brothers dead at 79
  ‘Full Metal Jacket’ actor R. Lee Ermey dead at 74
  ‘M*A*S*H’ actor David Ogden Stiers dead at 75
  'Mini-Me' actor Verne Troyer dead at 49
  Country music personality Hazel Smith has died at the age of 83
  Stephen Hawking dead at 76: Celebrities, public figures, scientists pay tribute
  Renowned physicist and professor Stephen Hawking dead at 76
  Tower Records founder Russ Solomon dies drinking whiskey, complaining about Oscars
  Former NBA player Rasual Butler, wife killed in car crash
  Moody Blues co-founder Ray Thomas dead at 76
  Blues, R&B singer Denise LaSalle dead at 78
  Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke dead at 67
  Legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson dead at 89
  Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan dead at 46
  ‘Oh Happy Day’ singer Edwin Hawkins dead at 74
  Jim Rodford, bassist for The Kinks, dead at 76
  John Coleman, The Weather Channel founder, dead at 83
  Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson killed by drunk driver, police say
  Elizabeth Sung, ‘Joy Luck Club,’ ‘Young and the Restless’ star, dies
  Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, Blues Brothers guitarist, dead at 88
  'Pawn Stars' patriarch Richard Harrison, known as 'Old Man,' dead at 77
  Former WWE star Matt Cappotelli dies of cancer at 38
  Charlotte Rae, ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’ ‘Facts of Life’ house mother, dead at 92
  Aretha Franklin dies at 76
  'Sweet Home Alabama' co-writer and Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King dies at 68
  Robin Leach, 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ host and celebrity columnist, dead at 76
  Actor Bill Daily of 'I Dream of Jeannie' dies at at 91
  Rapper Mac Miller dead at 26

Kate Spade: Celebrities, fans react to iconic designer’s death

The death of New York fashion designer Kate Spade has rocked the celebrity and fashion world. 

Read: Fashion designer Kate Spade dies

Spade was found dead in her New York apartment of an apparent suicide, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. She was 55.

>> Read more trending news 

Officials say she was found hanged inside her Park Avenue home by housekeeping staff around 10:20 a.m. They say she left a note at the scene.

Celebrities and fans are turning to Twitter to express their grief and sympathy.

Who is Andy Spade, husband of Kate Spade?

Fashion designer and Kate Spade New York co-founder Kate Spade was found dead in New York Tuesday. Law enforcement officials said it was an apparent suicide. She was 55 years old.

>> Read more trending news 

Spade is survived by her husband, Andy Spade, and their daughter, Frances Beatrix. Andy Spade co-founded the popular handbags and accessories company in 1993. 

Here are some things to know about Andy Spade.

Andy Spade met Kate Spade in the 1980s

Married in 1994, Spade, the brother of comedian David Spade, met Kate Spade at Arizona State University in the mid-1980s. They moved to New York in 1986.

Andy Spade is a co-founder of Kate Spade New York

In 1993, Kate Spade and Andy Spade founded Kate Spade New York. The first shop opened in New York in 1996. The company now has more than 140 stores in the U.S. and more than 175 shops worldwide.

The Spades sold the company in 2007

In order to focus on their daughter, the couple turned the company over to what is now Kate Spade & Company. 

Andy Spade started his own branding company in 2008

Partners & Spade, Andy Spade’s company, has worked with brands like J. Crew, Target, and Warby Parker. In 2013, he established the luxury pajamas company Sleepy Jones with Chad Buri and Anthony Sperduti. He also co-owns Half Gallery, an art space in New York.

In 2015, the Spades started another accessories company called Frances Valentine

“I feel like I’m an entrepreneur,” Andy Spade told CNBC in a 2015 interview. “And to me, starting things is really fun.” Frances Valentine is named after Kate Spade’s grandfathers.

“There were a lot of things we made up and we thought that wasn’t feeling right,” Andy Spade told WWD in 2015. “A person’s name felt like this thing that was part of us, that connection, something real.”

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