This week, the world was shocked by the news of the death of fashion mogul, Kate Spade, who was found hanging in her Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan. Police reported that Spade died in an apparent suicide.
The 55-year-old fashion designer has built a successful empire since the 90’s, just a few months after selling the company was sold to another fashion giant, Coach.
Now, as the world of luxury fashion mourns her death, we take a look back at the life of the business woman and fashion trend-setter.
Born Katherine Noel Brosnahan on December 24, 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri, Spade started as a journalist more than a decade ago. The aspiring fashion designer and then accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine, was searching for material to use in her would-be handbag line when she was told to “go home and make babies.”
This, among many other circumstances, would drive Spade to found the billion-dollar luxury handbag company with her husband, Andy Spade.
Over the years, her business grew, expanding to shoes, eyeglasses, and more recently, a bath and body product line, in partnership with Estée Lauder.
Start Of Success
Armed with an understanding for the business and her passion for creating women’s accessories, Spade launched her handbag line in 1993 in a small boutique in SoHo, Manhattan.
Her handbags later became known for their sleek and modern look, without foregoing color and utilitarian shapes.
The brand later on entered high-end shops like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.
In 1999, Spade and her husband sold 56% of their stake to Neiman Marcus for $34 million and later sold the remaining for $59 in 2006.
“I thought I’d be Holly Hunter from Broadcast News, behind the scenes running around really fast, paying attention to what needed to get done, and that’s what I thought,” Spade told CNN in an interview. “I didn’t grow up thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to be a designer.'”
With such a successful empire, Spade penned three books: Manners, Occasions and Style, where she shared her know-hows in business, style and perspectives in life.
“Cynicism is intellectual dandyism, but graciousness in speech is an aphrodisiac.” Spade wrote in Manners.
Further changing up the game in fashion, Spade launched a Minnie-mouse themed line of purses and jewelry in 2017, along with his longtime friends Paola Venturi and Elyce Arons, in their new fashion venture, Frances Valentine.
“I feel a little more confident,” Spade said of her new business venture. “But on the same hand, you think that people are expecting a great deal. So there’s still a lot of pressure, trust me. And we’re self-financing again, so I’m not crazy about, as I mentioned earlier, losing any money (laughter). So, you know, this thing better work.”
“People always ask me, ‘Where do you find inspiration?’ and I think it’s a difficult question to answer because – everywhere,” she told InStyle.
On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, New York Police Department officials received a call around 10:30 AM, reporting that Spade was found unresponsive in her New York apartment. She was pronounced dead at the scene by the authorities, although the exact cause of her death is still being examined.
“Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly heartbreaking time,” a message posted in the Kate Spade website read. “We honor all the beauty she brought into this world.”