Kate Spade killed herself on June 5, 2018 at age 55 in her New York apartment. She left a suicide note and is survived by her husband of 24 years Andy Spade and her 13-year-old daughter, Frances.
The irony in this sad, sad story is that Kate Spade’s brand was all about happiness. Cheerful color, whimsical motifs and accents like hearts and bows brought a smile to anyone who carried the line on their arm, or wrapped themselves in a bright yellow or pink coat. In fact, according to an article in the Fashion Week Daily, Kate Spade’s sister Reta Saffo said she almost had success getting Spade to seek help for her “debilitating mental illness,” but ultimately failed because Spade was afraid that if the news got out, it would hurt the “happy-go-lucky” nature of the brand.
While Spade had left her eponymous brand, changed her name to Kate Valentine and launched Frances Valentine accessories, she will be forever linked with the “happy” Kate Spate label.
A collaboration Kate Spade did with Magnolia Bakery a few years ago underscore’s the brand’s whimsical side and approach to making its customers smile. The fact that the designer had such a hidden life of darkness just goes to show that one can never know what’s going on behind a smile.
Celebrities and the industry quickly reacted, mourning the designer and often telling anecdotes about their first Kate Spate bag
What a devastating morning to hear that one of our most beloved American designers has passed. Seven years ago, I was asked to be the first celebrity ‘face’ of their brand. I still look back on that experience as a dream coming true. It may surprise some of you to know that I never actually met Kate Spade, but for as long as I can remember her fashion has influenced and inspired me. From quirky prints to ladylike cuts and everything in between, she designed with playful sophistication for every woman and girl. She made fashion fun and empowering and full of personality. What some of you may not know is that Kate Spade and her company (@katespadeny) were also dedicated to giving back, especially to women. The Kate Spade & Company Foundation provides approximately 1.2 million a year to nonprofit organizations who help provide women with access to tools and training to achieve economic independence. I hope that both her and her company’s work to bring fashion and women’s economic success to everyone continues as her legacy unfolds. My love is with her family and friends at this very sad time. If you or someone you know is feeling distressed, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 800-273-TALK (8255) or follow the link in my bio.
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
R.I.P Kate Spade. You will be forever missed.