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(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — Kate Spade, a fashion designer known for her sleek handbags, was found hanged in her Park Avenue apartment Tuesday in an apparent suicide, law enforcement officials said.

The 55-year-old left a note at the scene and was found by housekeeping at about 10:20 a.m. It’s not clear how long she had been dead. The medical examiner will perform an autopsy.

The officials said she was found with a red scarf around her neck attached to a doorknob. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.


The company she founded, Kate Spade New York, now has over 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the U.S. and more than 175 shops internationally.

A company representative did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail requests.

Spade, who was an accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine, launched her company with husband Andy in their apartment in 1993. She started the company based on six shapes of bags that she thought every working woman needed. It created a smash.

“I grew up in the Midwest, where you have to have it (a fashion item) because you like it, not because you’re supposed to have it,” the Kansas City, Mo., native told The Associated Press in 2004. “For our customers, fashion is in the right place in their life. It’s an adornment, not an obsession.”

From the original boxy handbags, she expanded into shoes, luggage and other accessories, as well as a home line, stationery, and three books. Spade won multiple awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and was named a “giant of design” by House Beautiful magazine.

“As an accessory, a great bag that takes the outfit somewhere else is interesting,” she told the AP in a 2000 interview.

She walked away from the company in 2007, a year after it was acquired from the Neiman Marcus Group for $125 million by the company then known as Liz Claiborne Inc.

Coach, now known as Tapestry, bought the Kate Spade brand last year for $2.4 billion, seeking to broaden its appeal.

Meanwhile, Spade and her husband started a new handbag company a few years ago, Frances Valentine. And she changed her name to Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade, she said in an NPR interview this year.

In addition to her husband, Spade is survived by a daughter, born in 2005.





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12 thoughts on “Designer Kate Spade Takes Her Own Life At 55

  1. African American Woman on said:

    americanize…I am aware that people who lack intelligence and the ability to clearly convey their thoughts call names…with that out of the way; I will not stoop to your level. Anyone who takes their own life is mentally ill…a simple search for data would show you that suicide rates are rising in the black community and since mental illness is prevalent; more attention is being given to it and it’s affects on black folks. Again, a racist is someone who hates and disregards others simply because of their race…racists come in all colors and all are equally despicable, fearful cowards who hide behind screen names and kiss ass in public….

  2. African American Woman on said:

    Ugggghhh! I hope and pray that one day mental illnesses get the attention, discussion and understanding they deserve…I work in the psych field and I can tell you that suicidal people commit suicide to stop the indescribable pain and despair they feel..they feel like a burden to others and actually feel that their death will stop the pain as well as unburdening others…the ignorance and callousness displayed toward the mentally ill is disheartening and despicable.

  3. americanize on said:

    Key word in this story,apparent how does a person run a muti million dollar business who has mental problems,and it seams all white people who kill has mental problems.Go figure.

      • americanize on said:

        African American Koon I,m far from sick,and blacks can,t be racist we don,t have the power to make life miserable for another group.Just though I,ll school you.And answer this why you never called the obvious racist that comes on this site everyday,racist and sicko.I,ll give you the last word.

      • African American Woman on said:

        You are the obvious racist…someone filled with hate and venom for a whole group of people based on the color of their skin-the definition of a racist…you’re a sicko because you bring up race unnecessarily-this person died due to suicide…mental illness doesn’t discriminate…see, I harbor no hate or ill will towards any particular group of people because, unlike you, I don’t allow others to make me feel powerless or less than..hate=fear…your fear of white people is silly and pathetic…they care nothing about you while you spend unessecary energy thinking and hating them…backwards and silly…

      • americanize on said:

        @ African American koon you missed the point why when a white person kills weather its themselves are others,they always hav mental problem.I know you can answer that b/c you are white.And ur trying to deflect I don,t hate all white people,b/c I know all white people are not white supremacist like you.But I,ll admit I don,t like racist white folks.And I don,t fear white people I just call out there history with black people.Now if you claim to be black which I don,t belived I guess your OK with how black folks are shitted on everyday in America.If you don,t like my post that’s ok but if you respond negatively I will clap back hard,b/c you are a white supremacist.

  4. Very selfish of Ms. Spade to commit suicide!
    She leaves behind a thirteen year old daughter.
    The kid will now need years of therapy to get over the death of her mother!!!!!!!!!

    • lois on said:

      I agree. And she had the audacity to address the suicide note to her daughter. Maybe it’s just how I feel…but if I had a child, that would give me the drive to seek help and continue living, so not to F-up the child’s life!!

  5. Ted Gravely on said:

    I guess being famous and having money doesn’t equal happiness. Also, is she short or was that door knob ridiculously high? Praying for her love ones.

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