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Tributes paid to 'wonderful, talented' Kate Spade

Spade died in an apparent suicide yesterday.

TRIBUTES ARE BEING paid across the fashion and celebrity worlds to the designer Kate Spade, who was known for her coveted handbags. Spade was found dead yesterday in her New York apartment. She was 55.

A police spokeswoman said Spade had taken her own life, but told AFP the exact circumstances of her death were not yet clear.

Designer Kate Spade Found Dead in New York City Source: Globe Photos

A source close to the investigation said she had left a note in her Park Avenue apartment.

Spade’s relatives said in a statement that they were “devastated by today’s tragedy” and would “miss her terribly,” asking for privacy. She is survived by her husband and teenage daughter.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America hailed Spade’s work.

“She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories,” said a statement from CFDA board chairman Diane von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb.

Iconic handbags 

Spade had first worked as a journalist, including a stint as accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine before launching her eponymous fashion label in 1993 with her husband Andy and the help of outside investors.

The brand, initially sold in several New York stores, opened its flagship in the city’s Soho neighbourhood in 1996.

Her designs represented the New York aesthetic — a mix of modern and classic. It was so associated with the city that she eventually added its name to her label, Kate Spade New York.

Her most famous handbag was the Sam — a black mid-size rectangular bag.

Beyond the label’s signature handbags, Spade was also known for shoes. It later branched into ready-to-wear, after she had left the company.

Many changes at label 

U.S.-NEW YORK-KATE SPADE-DEATH Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

In 1999, Spade ceded a majority stake in her company to high-end department store chain Neiman Marcus for $34 million. NM then sold the label to textiles giant Liz Claiborne.

Spade sold the last of her shares in the company in the mid-2000s for another $59 million, and was no longer directly associated with the management of the company bearing her name.

In 2017, Coach (now Tapestry) bought the Kate Spade label, the last remnant of Liz Claiborne, in a deal worth $2.4 billion.

Over the years, the label had blossomed into a full lifestyle brand with more than 300 stores worldwide and sales of $1.38 billion in 2016.

The company offered its condolences, calling Spade a “visionary,” and saying: “We honor all the beauty she brought into this world.”

Following the sale of her company, Spade — born Katherine Brosnahan — had launched a new accessories label, Frances Valentine. It was named in part after her daughter Frances Beatrix.

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

- Additional reporting Aoife Barry

- © AFP, 2018

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