Belfast Telegraph

Tributes paid as fashion designer Kate Spade dies aged 55

The famous bag designer was found dead at her New York apartment on Tuesday.

Chelsea Clinton has led the tributes to American fashion designer Kate Spade, who has died aged 55.

Spade was found dead in her apartment in New York on Tuesday following an apparent suicide, law enforcement officials said.

The businesswoman was best known for the eponymous handbag brand she founded with her husband, Andy Spade, in 1993.

Author and activist Clinton, the daughter of former US president Bill Clinton, tweeted: “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.”

Journalist Guy Raz, who created the How I Built This podcast about entrepreneurship on which Spade appeared last year, said he is “totally shocked” to hear of her death.

He tweeted: “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 favourite interviews ever.”

Singer Josh Groban wrote: “RIP Kate Spade. Love to her family.”

Plus-size model Tess Holliday tweeted: “Kate Spade & her brand have always been so kind to me the past couple years & I’m crushed to hear about her passing.”

She added that her “heart goes out to her family & team today.”

Officials said Spade’s death is an ongoing investigation.

Born Katherine Noel Brosnahan, Spade gained a degree in journalism from Arizona State University in 1985 before moving to New York to join Mademoiselle magazine as a fashion editor the following year.

She launched her career as a handbag designer with her husband in the early 1990s following her departure from the magazine, and opened her first store in 1996.

The brand has since become a household name with stores around the world and an expanded product line including clothing, footwear and stationery.

Her line won acclaim early on, with Spade winning the award for America’s New Fashion Talent in Accessories from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1996.

Spade completed the sale of her share of the business in 2006 for 124 million dollars (£93 million), and left in 2007, taking time off for charity work and to look after her daughter, Frances Beatrix, born in 2005.

More recently, she was inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the Henry W Bloch School of Management in the US, and business magazine Fast Company named her one of its Most Creative People in Business last year.

In 2016, the designer and her husband teamed up again to launch handbag and footwear brand Frances Valentine.

She also changed her last name to Valentine to distinguish her from her original brand, she told publication Business Of Fashion that year.

She is survived by her husband Andy and daughter Frances.

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