Designer Kate Spade was found dead on June 5 at her home in New York City. She was discovered unresponsive by a housekeeper, having died in her bedroom by hanging. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:26 a.m.
Spade, 55, was an accessories designer for Mademoiselle magazine until she founded her company, Kate Spade, along with her fiancé, Andy, and a friend, Elyce Arons, in 1993.
Spade became famous for her stylish and functional handbags and, in 1999, the business was sold to Neiman Marcus Group. The company changed hands several times after that and, in 2017, was acquired by Coach, Inc. By 2007, the Spades had stepped away from the company to focus on other work. In 2016, the Spades, along with Arons and Paolo Venturi, launched the accessories label Frances Valentine.
She and Andy talked about their new brand during a BUILD Series interview in April 2017.
Fans And Celebrities Respond With Shock And Sadness
In the wake of her shocking and untimely death, fans, celebrities and those in the fashion industry are mourning this incredible loss and reflecting on the impact she had on design, with many taking to social media to express their condolences and sorrow.
Social media personality Andrea Russett, for example, called Spade “creative and inspiring,” and reminded people that they are “never alone,” sharing the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number:
My heart hurts hearing about Kate Spade. Such a creative and inspiring woman. Please remember you are never alone, no matter how lonely you may feel in the moment.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
— Andrea Russett (@AndreaRussett) June 5, 2018
Chelsea Clinton, daughter of President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shared that she received her first Kate Spade bag while in college, and that she still has it today:
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
Fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone burst into tears when she was informed of Spade’s death.
“She was a great visionary who celebrated and elevated great ideas in this country,” Cutrone told New York Daily News. “It’s heartbreaking. She had a great spirit and I hope people remember her that way.”
While Kate and Andy Spade had sold their shares in the business years ago, the brand — now owned by Coach — paid tribute to the namesake designer:
Mindy Kaling also paid tribute to the designer on Twitter — highlighting the “colorful, bold, cheerful” clothing the designer created.
I am heartbroken about the news of Kate Spade. I have worn her clothes many, many times. They were colorful, bold, cheerful, and encouraged women to find the twinkly person inside them. You couldn’t walk into her boutiques and not smile. Rest In Peace, Kate.
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) June 5, 2018
Actress/singer Bette Midler echoed similar sentiments, calling attention to the tragic juxtaposition between Spade’s sunny, “joyous” designs and the real-life pain and darkness she was evidently experiencing.
#KateSpade, whose lively, colorful, and yes, joyous designs has died. My deepest sympathy to her family and friends, and her many fans around the world, who loved the wonderful illusions she created. I am stunned.
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) June 5, 2018
Despite Wealth And Success, Mental Illness Does Not Discriminate
In their remembrances, many — such as singer Josh Groban — have noted that Spade’s incredible success did not protect her from mental illness or unhappiness. They encouraged others who are suffering to seek help if they need it.
Depression does not discriminate and comes without warning. RIP Kate Spade. Love to her family.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
— josh groban (@joshgroban) June 5, 2018
Reporter Nadra Nittle, for example, pointed out that fellow designers L’Wren Scott and Alexander McQueen also died by suicide, and called for a greater awareness of mental health in the fashion industry.
Kate Spade, L'Wren Scott, and Alexander McQueen all took their own lives. We really need to address mental health in fashion.
— Nadra Nittle (@NadraKareem) June 5, 2018
If you or someone you love is struggling and considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).