American Designer Kate Spade: Whose Bags Carried Women Into Adulthood, Is Dead at 55
The American designer Kate Spade, who created an accessories monarchy and whose handbags became a status symbol and a token of refined adulthood for American ladies, was found dead on Tuesday.
Ms. Spade designed a brand on the charm of clothes and accessories that created ladies smile, her cheerful lack of restraint and bright prints striking a chord with users.
She was the embodiment of her own aesthetic, along with her proto-1960s bouffant, nerd glasses and kooky grin, which masked a business mind that saw the opportunities in becoming a lifestyle brand, more or less before the term formally existed.
The police said Tuesday that Ms. Spade, 55, was discovered unresponsive at a Park Avenue apartment, where she had hanged herself in her bedroom. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:26 a.m. She left a note, however, the official didn’t comment on what it said.
A housekeeper found Ms. Spade, the police said. She was unconscious and the house servant referred to as 911. Ms. Spade’s husband was at the scene. “We are all devastated by today’s tragedy,” the Spade family said during a statement. “We loved Kate dearly and will miss her really. we’d ask that our privacy is honored as we grieve during this really troublesome time.”
Born Katherine Brosnahan in Kansas City, Mo., in December 1962, Ms. Spade was one of the primary of a strong wave of female American contemporary designers during the 1990s.
Ms. Spade, who had been the accessories editor of Mademoiselle magazine, founded Kate Spade along with her husband-to-be, Andy and a friend, Elyce Arons, in 1993. frustrated with the handbags of the era, which she found to be over-accessorized, she had required “a functional bag that was sophisticated and had some vogue,” she told The New York Times in 1999.
RELATED PHOTOGRAPHS: Kate Spade Designs Through The Years
She didn’t grasp what to call the corporate initiatives and decided to create it a combination of the names of the co-founders. after the primary show, she accomplished that the bags required a bit one thing extra to catch people’s eyes. She took the label, which originally had been on the inside of the bag, and sewed it to the outside. with that gesture, she created a brand identity and her empire.
Within some years, she had opened a SoHo shop and was aggregation trade awards, her name a shorthand for the lovable, clever bags that were an immediate hit with career ladies and, later, young girls, status symbols of a more attainable, all-American sort than a Fendi clutch or Chanel bag. Ms. Spade became the really visible face of her brand and paved the approach for female lifestyle designers like Tory Burch and Jenna Lyons of J Crew.
Joe Zee, the previous creative director of Elle and former fashion director of W, met Ms. Spade before she started her company, within weeks of his own begin during the fashion industry.
“She told me she was thinking of beginning a handbag line in that carefree, exciting approach she had,” he said. “I keep in mind her describing some aspects of it to me and what she required to do, in that same spirited manner she had when she talked. it was forever colorful, said excitedly and a smile.”
By then, the Spades had been gone a decade, having left in 2007 to devote themselves to different projects. Ms. Spade dedicated herself to her family and to philanthropy, and in 2016, along with her husband, Ms. Arons, and Paola Venturi, a Kate Spade alum, launched a newly venture, an accessories label known as Frances Valentine. Ms. Spade was so committed to the project that she told interviewers she had modified her surname from Spade to Valentine.
A spokeswoman for Kate New York said during a statement that while “Kate has not been related with the brand for quite a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand. Kate will be affectionately lost. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”
Mr. Zee said he forever admired Ms. Spade for being ahead of her time. “She knew what the fashion world required before we did,” he said. “Kate just did what she felt was right, despite what the business would think.”
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