Katherine Noel Brosnahan (December 24, 1962 – June 5, 2018), known professionally as Kate Spade or Kate Valentine, was an American fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the founder and former co-owner of the designer brand Kate Spade New York.
After working in the accessories department at the fashion magazine Mademoiselle, Brosnahan and her husband Andy Spade founded the business in 1993, identifying a market for quality stylish handbags. Those she designed and produced quickly became popular, and the company expanded into other product lines. In 1999 she sold a 56% stake in Kate Spade New York to Neiman Marcus Group; in 2006 she sold the rest of her shares. In 2016, she and partners launched a new fashion brand called Frances Valentine.
The 55-year-old was found dead in her apartment in New York on Tuesday following an apparent suicide.
Kate Spade’s devastated husband has rejected suggestions she was abusing drugs or alcohol or had been dealing with business problems.
Andy Spade said the American fashion designer had been seeking help for depression and anxiety for “many years” and had been taking medication after seeing doctors.
In a statement to the New York Times, Mr. Spade said she had “sounded happy” when they spoke the night before.
“My daughter and I are devastated by her loss, and can’t even begin to fathom life without her. We are deeply heartbroken and miss her already,” he told the newspaper.
Mr. Spade said they had been living apart for the last 10 months, but had not legally separated or discussed divorce.
Their daughter, Frances Beatrix, who was born in 2005, had been living at both their homes and they maintained a semblance of family life for the youngster.
“We loved each other very much and simply needed a break,” he said.
“This is the truth. Anything else that is out there right now is false.
“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.
“There was no substance or alcohol abuse. There were no business problems.”
Mr. Spade said his late wife had not left a note and he was “appalled” that a private message to their daughter had been “so heartlessly shared with the media”.
His priority was now protecting her privacy, he said.
Spade was best known for the eponymous handbag brand she founded with her husband in 1993. The brand became a household name with stores around the world and an expanded product line including clothing, footwear, and stationery.
She completed the sale of her share of the business in 2006 for 124 million dollars (£93 million), and left in 2007, taking time off for charity work and to look after her daughter, who was born in 2005.
Chelsea Clinton was among the public figures to pay tribute to the designer, saying: “My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it.”