Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling and others mourn death of designer Kate Spade

Chelsea Clinton, Mindy Kaling and others mourn death of designer Kate Spade
PHOTO: AFP

Heartbreaking news from the fashion world today. Accessories designer Kate Spade was found dead in her New York apartment. Police are investigating it as an apparent suicide. She was 55 years old.

According to CNN, police responded to a call from Kate’s housekeeper, who found her body in the apartment. NYPD chief of detectives Dermot Shea said that a suicide note was found, and other sources said that it was addressed to Kate’s daughter, Frances Beatrix.

Associated Press also reported that Kate’s husband, Andy, was in the apartment at the time. Their daughter was in school.

Fashion designer Kate Spade, 55, found dead in New York apartment

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    Kate Spade, the designer who built a fashion empire on the popularity of her signature handbags before selling the brand, was found dead in her New York City apartment on Tuesday morning in an apparent suicide, police said.

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    Spade, 55, hanged herself and was found by her housekeeper at her home on Park Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the New York Daily News reported, citing unnamed police officials.

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    Born Katherine Noel Brosnahan in Kansas City, Missouri, Spade was a former accessories editor at the now-closed Mademoiselle magazine before she and Andy Spade launched their namesake design company, Kate Spade New York, in 1993. The couple married the following year.

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    They began by selling handbags before expanding to include clothing, jewelry, bedding, legwear and fragrances.

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    The brand grew into a fashion empire, known for accessories that offered affordable luxury to younger working women. Her brightly coloured, clean-lined style offered a spunky take on fashion at time when luxury handbags were out of reach to most consumers.

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    Kate Spade New York released a statement calling the news "incredibly sad."

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    "Although Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand," the statement said. "Kate will be dearly missed."

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    The New York City chief medical examiner's office said the cause of Spade's death was under investigation.

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    Kate Spade with Michael Kors

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    Spade told National Public Radio (NPR) last year that she first discussed starting a handbag company with Andy Spade while they ate at a Mexican restaurant in 1991.

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    "I said, 'Honey, you don't just start a handbag company,'" she told NPR, "and he said, 'Why not, how hard can it be?'"

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Kate Spade New York also confirmed the sad news with a statement on Twitter. “Although Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand. Kate will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”

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As of now, there are no reports yet of what might’ve pushed Kate to take her own life. A source alleged that Kate and her husband Andy were having problems the past few months, but it’s still not a clear indicator for what Kate might’ve gone through.

Kate is known for her namesake brand, which she started with Andy. The brand is well-loved for its colorful and versatile handbags.

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Later on, Kate and Andy distanced themselves from the brand. In 1999, they sold 56 percent of Kate Spade New York’s shares to Neiman Marcus for US$33.6 million (S$44.8 million). And just last year, Coach announced that they’re acquiring the brand for US$2.4 billion. The couple also launched an accessories brand named Frances Valentine in 2016.

Still, the brand is a hit among young working women. Chelsea Clinton and other netizens shared stories of how they got their first Kate Spade bag. As CNN put it, “For many women, a Kate Spade handbag functioned as a symbol of professional achievement.”

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Kate brought joy to women who were looking for bags that were both functional and lasted a long time. However, what a person shows you isn’t always reflective of what they’re feeling.

We might not know what went on inside Kate’s head and we want to extend our condolences to her family. For people who are going through something similar, please do not be afraid to seek professional help.

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HELPLINES
  • Samaritans of Singapore (SOS): 1800-2214444
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-2837019
  • Sage Counselling Centre: 1800-5555555
  • Care Corner Mandarin Counselling: 1800-3535800
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