Late Kate Spade one of most celebrated designers of her era

Police say the apparent cause of 55-year-old’s death is suicide

Kate Spade was one of the most successful designers of her generation. Photograph: AP/ Bebeto Matthews

Kate Spade was one of the most successful designers of her generation. Photograph: AP/ Bebeto Matthews

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Kate Spade, one of the most successful designers of her generation, was found dead on Tuesday in New York. The apparent cause of the 55-year-old’s death was suicide, police said. Ms Spade, who is survived by her husband Andy and her 13-year-old daughter, was found unconscious by her housekeeper in her Park Avenue home according to initial reports.

Originally from Missouri, she forged her fashion career in magazine journalism, working as accessories editor of Mademoiselle magazine. She launched her handbag range in 1993 with her future husband, Andy.

The business rapidly evolved into one of the most recognisable brands in fashion, known for the iconic spade motifs that embellished her designs. Though Kate Spade produced jewellery, accessories and eventually clothing, it was the handbag range that solidified the brand’s success. The colourful designs and simple prints of the handbags soon became a wardrobe staple for women in the US and further afield, and were also more affordable than offerings from Chanel or Louis Vuitton.

The business was sold to the Neiman Marcus retail group in 1999. It subsequently changed hands several times, most recently acquired by Coach last year for an estimated $2.4 billion. Ms Spade and her husband left the business in 2007.

Their most recent venture was an accessory line Frances Valentine. In a statement, Kate Spade New York said the founder of the brand would be “dearly missed”.

“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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