Kate Spade, ASU alumna and fashion designer, dead at 55

Spade was found unresponsive in her New York apartment Tuesday morning

Kate Spade, a household name in the fashion industry for her stylish line of handbags, was found dead in her New York City apartment Tuesday morning. She was 55.

The police said Spade was found in her bedroom by her housekeeper in an apparent case of suicide. There is now an investigation underway, and according to the police, a note was left by the deceased. 

Her husband Andy Spade was in the apartment at the time, according to The Associated Press.

Kate Spade was a fashion icon, businesswoman, mother and wife, who began her career after graduating in 1985 with a degree in journalism from Arizona State University. She became an assistant editor at the fashion magazine Mademoiselle. It was while working in fashion journalism that Spade realized she wanted to be a designer. 

In 1993, she quit her position at Mademoiselle, where she was by then a senior fashion editor, in order to start a fashion company, Kate Spade New York. Spade’s husband Andy — brother of actor and comedian David Spade —went in on the business full-time in 1996. It was not long before their line of handbags became wildly popular, and Spade’s brand became a household name among working women in America. 

In a 1999 interview with The New York Times, Spade said of her intentions starting the company, “I wanted a functional bag that was sophisticated and had some style.” She accomplished this and much more. 

Multiple reports in the national press have focused on Spade’s accomplishments, and many fans and loved ones are mourning the loss. Some have tweeted about Spade’s importance to working women and her appeal to those who were looking for elegance without pretense. 

“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.”

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention released a statement Tuesday in response to the news of Spade’s death.

“Suicide is the result of many factors that come together such as an underlying mental health condition, life stressors, and access to lethal means,” according to the statement. “We must do more to prevent such tragic deaths through greater awareness of mental health, common risks and warning signs, and effective interventions and treatments.”

If you are in crisis or need help right now, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Additionally, you can call EMPACT’s 24-Hour ASU-dedicated Crisis Line at 480-921-1006.

A host of mental health services for students can be found at ASU Counseling Services

Reach the reporter at parker.shea@asu.edu or follow @laconicshamanic on Twitter.

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