Kate Spade was under treatment for depression, anxiety: Husband

Kate Spade was under treatment for depression, anxiety: Husband
PHOTO: AFP

Designer Kate Spade, who committed suicide in New York this week, had been treated for depression and anxiety for five years, her husband said Wednesday.

"She was actively seeking help for depression and anxiety over the last five years, seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking medication for both depression and anxiety," her husband Andy Spade said in a statement carried by The New York Times.

It was a blunt rebuke to claims by the designer's sister that Kate Spade needed mental health care but refused treatment over concerns about potentially hurting the light-hearted brand.

The death of the 55-year-old star designer, whose body was found Wednesday in her Park Avenue apartment, "was not unexpected by me," Spade's older sister Reta Saffo told The Kansas City Star from her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Spade -- a Missouri native who first worked as a journalist, including a stint as accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine -- launched her Kate Spade fashion label in 1993 with her husband Andy and the help of outside investors.

Her cheerful use of bright colors and prints proved a hit with career women. Over a decade ago, she sold the business and later launched a luxury line Frances Valentine.

Celebrity news website TMZ cited police sources as saying Spade had fallen into depression in recent weeks after her husband left her and was seeking divorce.

Andy Spade said that the couple had been living apart but in the same neighborhood, caring for their 13-year-old daughter Bea.

Embodying authenticity

"Our daughter was our priority. We were not legally separated, and never even discussed divorce. We were best friends trying to work through our problems in the best way we knew how. We were together for 35 years. We loved each other very much and simply needed a break," Andy Spade added.

"There was no substance or alcohol abuse. There were no business problems. We loved creating our businesses together. We were co-parenting our beautiful daughter," he stressed.

"My daughter and I are devastated by her loss, and can't even begin to fathom life without her."

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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Anna Wintour, the grand priestess of fashion and editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, hailed Spade as a woman who "defined" authenticity.

"There was a moment when you couldn't walk a block in New York without seeing one of her bags, which were just like her; colorful and unpretentious," Wintour said in a statement.

"Kate designed with great charm and humour, and built a global empire that reflected exactly who she was and how she lived. Long before we talked about 'authenticity,' she defined it."

Several admirers such as First Daughter Ivanka Trump highlighted the importance of suicide helplines and seeing the signs of depression.

"Kate Spade's tragic passing is a painful reminder that we never truly know another's pain or the burden they carry. If you are struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, please, please seek help," Trump tweeted.

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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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