Iconic fashion designer Kate Spade has been found dead in her New York City apartment in what police have described as a “tragic suicide”.
Police responded Wednesday morning (AEST) after Spade was found by her housekeeper, New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said Wednesday morning (AEST). A suicide note was found at the scene, he added.
Spade, 55, was a co-founder of the designer label Kate Spade New York, which she later sold.
She was also a former accessories editor at the now-closed Mademoiselle magazine before launching her label in 1993.
In 2016, Spade and her husband Andy Spade, with whom she had a daughter, founded a new accessories label called Frances Valentine.
Police confirmed the designer’s death under her birth name, Katherine Noel Brosnahan.
It was not clear how long Spade had been dead before her discovery and an autopsy is scheduled to be performed, but Detective Shea said the presence of a note pointed to “a tragic suicide”.
The couple’s 13-year-old daughter was at school at the time of the discovery.
Detective Shea would not discuss the contents of the note, but The Associated Press quoted law enforcement officials as saying that, among other things, it contained a message to her daughter telling her it was not her fault.
“We are all devastated by today’s tragedy,” Spade’s family said in a statement.
“We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”
Kate Spade New York began by selling handbags before expanding to include clothing, jewellery, bedding, legwear and fragrances.
Tapestry Inc, the handbag company formerly known as Coach, bought Kate Spade in May 2017 to cater to millennials, who are drawn to the company’s quirky satchels and colourful tote bags.
The deal also turned Coach into a multibrand fashion house, a strategy that European counterparts such as Louis Vuitton have built their businesses on.
Kate Spade New York has over 140 retail stores across the United States and more than 175 shops internationally, according to the company’s website.
Kate Spade New York issued a statement confirming the “incredibly sad news” of its founder’s death.
“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,” it said.
“Kate will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”
Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton was among the first to pay tribute.
“My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it. Holding Kate’s family, friends and loved ones in my heart,” she tweeted.
My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it. Holding Kate’s family, friends and loved ones in my heart.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) June 5, 2018
Ivanka Trump, daughter of current President Donald Trump, urged anyone struggling with depression to seek help.
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. https://t.co/eruSexNoGj
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 5, 2018
The Council of Fashion Designers of America posted a statement saying its members were devastated to hear of Spade’s death.
“She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories,” the statement said.
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