Update: Kate Spade New York has announced that their foundation will be donating over $1 million USD to “mental health awareness causes” in their founder’s honour. In an Instagram post, the clothing and accessories brand went on to detail that the first $250,000 will go to Crisis Text Line, a not-for-profit that offers 24/7 crisis counselling via text message. (They’ve received over 55 million texts to date). Kate Spade New York pledged to match all donations made to the service from now until June 29, up to a maximum of $100,000.
This announcement comes as Spade is laid to rest in her home town of Kansas City, Missouri. According to her obituary, a funeral mass is being held today (June 21) at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Redemptorist Catholic Church. That obituary, written by her family, also contains a moving tribute to ‘Katy’. An excerpt:
“Those who knew her personally can share stories of a phenomenally loving, giving, humble, warm and affectionate woman who tragically left this world far too soon. Katy’s determination was matched only by her generosity. Loyal almost to a fault, Katy could be counted on to support her friends and family in times of trouble without question or judgment. Her sense of humor was one of her most enduring and charming qualities. Her quick and infectious laugh still resonates in the minds of all who knew her. Katy was always perceptive. She always aspired to put the best interests of others ahead of her own. Katy will always be remembered lovingly for her conscientiousness and empathy. She loved animals. She was a devoted wife, mother, daughter and sister. Katy was kind beyond words to describe. She will be dearly missed by those who knew her and by the millions she inspired.”
Kate Spade, the 55-year-old designer behind the beloved eponymous label, was found dead on June 5 in her Park Avenue apartment in New York City. Police believe Spade died by suicide.
Born Katherine Brosnahan in Kansas City, Missouri, Spade began her career at now-shuttered Mademoiselle magazine. She rose through the ranks to become senior fashion editor and head of the pub’s accessories department, eventually leaving to start her own line of women’s bags after noticing a gap in the market for accessories that were as pretty as they were practical.
By this time married to Andy Spade, she co-founded Kate Spade the label in 1993. Although it initially focused on just handbags, the brand quickly expanded to clothing and home goods, all with Spade’s signature colour and quirk. The company opened its first boutique in 1996 and by 1999 had become so successful that
the Neiman Marcus Group acquired a 56% stake. Neiman Marcus later purchased the remaining 44%, then sold the company to Liz Claiborne Inc. Most recently, Kate Spade was sold to the Coach group for $2.4 billion in 2016. By this time, however, Spade herself had exited the company to pursue other ventures, including a new accessories label, Frances Valentine, which launched in 2016.
In addition to her husband, Spade leaves behind a 13-year old-daughter named Frances.
Via a spokesperson, the brand Kate Spade has released a statement that says, in part: “Although Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand. Kate will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”
As news of her passing hit the fashion world, tributes to the designer began pouring in.
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
totally shocked to hear about Kate Spade. She was an inspiration to me and to millions of @HowIBuiltThis listeners. Thank you for everything you did for American fashion and entrepreneurship. One of my favorite interviews ever: https://t.co/oSkGCQw3rW
— Guy Raz (@guyraz) June 5, 2018
Very saddened to hear about the passing of Kate Spade. Mental illness does not discriminate and can happen to anyone with any circumstances. I hope she has found peace
— Lucy Hale (@lucyhale) June 5, 2018
Grieving for the family of Kate Spade, breakthrough designer and woman of style and substance. Pls write down this number and use it if you or someone you love is in danger. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
— Cindi Leive (@cindi_leive) June 5, 2018
Rest in peace, Kate Spade.
If you are in crisis, please reach out to Canada’s National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-833-456-4566, 24 hours a day.