Kate Spade, Designer of Iconic Handbags, Is Dead at 55 | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Kate Spade, Designer of Iconic Handbags, Is Dead at 55

Kate Spade, Designer of Iconic Handbags, Is Dead at 55
Kate Spade
(Courtesy: IMDB)

Kate Spade, whose handbags became an icon of American fashion during the 1990s, is dead of an apparent suicide at the age of 55.

Police say Spade was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment on June 5 in Manhattan by her housekeeper. The police are investigating her death as an apparent suicide. A note was found in the apartment, but the investigators have yet to disclose its contents.

Spade and her husband Andy started her company in 1993. She had been working as the accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine and found the handbags she wrote about lacking and overpriced. She wanted to create a handbag that was practical and more accessible than what she found in stores at that time. The company she and her husband founded went on to become a fashion powerhouse.

Born as Katherine Brosnahan in 1962, Spade grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She began her career as a junior editor at Mademoiselle magazine in New York in the  late '80s.

She started her handbag line with six shapes, which were characterized by her logo featuring the spade shape from a playing card, an instantly recognizable brand that guaranteed people would remember her work and her name. Kate Spade opened its first outlet in New York 1996, and in the same year, the Council of Fashion Designers of America crowned Spade America’s New Fashion Talent in Accessories; followed by the Best Accessory Designer of the Year in 1998. 

The company later expanded to a chain of more than 300 stores across the world.  She and her husband sold a controlling interest in the company to Neiman Marcus in 1999, and the rest of their shares in 2006. In 2016, she started another brand with her husband called Frances Valentine. In 2017,  Coach acquired Kate Spade  from its previous owners for $2.4 billion.

The designer was survived by her husband Andy Spade and their teenage daughter Frances Beatrix. The family sought privacy from the media upon her passing, expressing their devastation by this tragedy, and stated that they would "miss her terribly" in a statement. The fashion world and her fans have been expressing their condolences through social media ever since.

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