This is a triple gut punch of sad. Kate Spade (government name: Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade), fashion designer and creator of the iconic Kate Spade line of nylon purses, died at her apartment on Park Avenue in NYC today. CBS News says that Kate was found by her housekeeper at around 10:20 this morning. TMZ is hearing that left a suicide note. She was only 55.
Kate’s road to having her name on every bag and/or wallet carried by everyone in the 90s, started in 1986, when she got a job in the accessories department at Mademoiselle magazine. She left the magazine five years later, and decided to start her own line of purses, because she noticed that what the accessories game really needed was sensible, simple and stylish purses that people didn’t need to sell an internal organ to buy.
In 1993, Kate and her husband Andy Spade (brother of David Spade) used money from his 401k to start Kate Spade Handbags. It took off, and they later expanded the brand by selling everything from stationary to home stuff to shoes to clothes to man bags (called Jack Spade) to perfume, and on and on and on.
Neiman Marcus bought a controlling stake in Kate Spade in 1999, and bought the rest of the company in 2006. Coach, Inc. bought Kate Spade for $2.4 billion last year.
After completely selling her company to NM in 2006, Kate took a break to raise her daughter Frances. Kate got the itch to design again in 2016, and came back with a line of shoes and bags called Frances Valentine. Kate also had the names “Frances” and “Valentine” added to her legal name.
Kate Spade was a legend and icon during my later high school days. Every girl begged for a Kate Spade whatever for every holiday that required a gift. Kate Spade’s stuff was still expensive, but it wasn’t a “Family, gather around, we’re going to have to move into a studio apartment and little Billy, you’re going to have to sleep on the tub, all because your older sister Kelly wanted a Her-Meez bag for Christmas” kind of expensive. I knew Kate Spade had made it into the legion of iconic designers when I saw a girl carrying a knock-off “Kate Clubs” backpack (it didn’t say “Kate Clubs” but I wish it did).
Kate is survived by her husband Andy and their 13-year-old daughter Frances. Kate’s niece is also Mrs. Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan).
Rest in peace, Kate Spade.