UPDATED: Fashion designer Kate Spade has been found dead in an apparent suicide, according to law enforcement officials. She was 55.
Officials say she was found in New York City at her Park Avenue apartment at around 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday. A housekeeper found Spade hanging from a red scarf tied to her bedroom doorknob, officials said. The housekeeper called 911, and Spade was pronounced dead on the scene. She left a note, but officials did not know what it said.
Kate Spade New York, the fashion brand she co-founded, issue a statement on her death later on Tuesday. “Kate Spade, the visionary founder of our brand, has passed,” it read. “Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly heartbreaking time. We honor all the beauty she brought into this world.”
Spade, born Katherine Brosnahan, grew up in Kansas City, Mo. Spade got her start working in the accessories department of Mademoiselle magazine in Manhattan. While working there, she moved in with her husband-to-be, Andy Spade (brother of David Spade). She left the magazine in 1991, and went on to create her own handbag line.
Her New York-based company, which she co-founded with her husband and a friend in 1994, initially sold handbags, but the designer brand eventually extended to clothing, jewelry, shoes, stationery, eyewear, and bedding, among other items. The contemporary brand is known for colorful patterns and bold designs. During her expansive career, Spade’s line was a staple on red carpets among celebrities.
In 1996, the Kate Spade brand opened its first boutique in SoHo before moving its headquarters to West 25th Street. Kate Spade New York currently has over 140 retail shops and outlets across the country and more than 175 stores internationally.
Neiman Marcus Group purchased 56% of the Kate Spade brand in 1999. In 2007, Spade sold the remaining portion to Neiman Marcus Group and focused on spending time with her daughter, Frances. Coach bought Kate Spade for $2.4 billion in May 2017, and changed the name to Tapestry, Inc.
Spade launched a new fashion brand, Frances Valentine, in 2016, and the designer changed her last name to Valentine to distinguish between the two brands.
Her niece is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan.
Spade is survived by her husband and her daughter, who was born in 2005.