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. The handbags that she designed and produced quickly became popular due to their sophistication and affordability; they have been described as a symbol of 1990s New York City.
The company expanded into other product lines. In 1999, she sold a 56 percent 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
A housekeeper found Spade dead in her Manhattan apartment on June 5, 2018. Her death was ruled a suicide by hanging. Police reported that she had left a note addressed to her daughter. The day after her death, Andy Spade released a statement regarding his wife’s death and the fact that she had suffered from depression and anxiety.
“Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years,” he said, conditions she was being treated for. “There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock.” After his wife’s death, Spade confirmed reports that they had both lived in separate apartments throughout the previous ten months. However, contrary to some published reports, he said the couple had not had plans to divorce or separate.
After Spade’s death, her sister, Reta Saffo, told the media her suicide was “not unexpected”. She believed Kate had suffered from bipolar disorder throughout her life, aggravated by the fame and wealth she achieved in her 30s. “She never expected it—nor was she properly prepared for it.”
Saffo told the Kansas City Star that she had, on several occasions, tried to convince her sister to get treatment, only to have her change her mind at the last minute, fearing that the stigma of mental illness would hurt her brand. “She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out” and thus dealt with her condition with alcohol instead. “After numerous attempts, I finally let go,” Saffo wrote. “Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves!”
Saffo believed Kate had been planning to kill herself for some time. In 2014, she recalled that her sister was captivated by extensive media coverage of actor Robin Williams‘ death, also a suicide by hanging. “I think the plan was already in motion even as far back as then.” The last time the two had talked, she said, Kate had asked her to come to her funeral even though she knew Saffo did not like going to those events. She insisted to Saffo that she was not considering suicide.
The rest of the family, who have not been close to Saffo for a decade, disputed this characterization. A source close to them told NBC News that they were “disgusted and saddened” at Saffo’s remarks. “Her statement paints a picture of someone who did not know [Kate] at all.” Kate’s older brother Earl Brosnahan did allow that Kate was the only one in the family who still spoke to Saffo, but only “sporadically”. He nevertheless called Saffo’s accounts “grossly inaccurate”. Elyce Arons, one of her business partners, also recalled to The New York Times that she had on several occasions heard Spade say that she “would never do that” when news broke of a celebrity’s suicide.
I am sure everyone know about her taking her life today. Buying a Kate Spade handbag quickly became some sort of a coming-of-age ritual for a generation of American women. Moms bought their daughte…
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