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Kate Spade dead; fashion designer was 55

The company she and her husband, Andy, founded, Kate Spade New York, has more than 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the United States and more than 175 shops internationally.

Kate Spade poses with handbags and shoes from

Kate Spade poses with handbags and shoes from her collection on May 13, 2004. Photo Credit: AP / Bebeto Matthews

Internationally known fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead in her Manhattan home on Tuesday of an apparent suicide, according to the NYPD.

Spade, 55, whose maiden name was Katherine Brosnahan, was found by a housekeeper in her Park Avenue apartment at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said. She had a red scarf tied around her neck attached to a doorknob, a law enforcement source said.

A note was found at the home, police said, but they declined to disclose the contents.

“It appears at this point in time to be case of apparent suicide,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.

Spade created a popular line of sleek handbags in the early 1990s. Kate Spade New York, the company she and her husband, Andy Spade, founded, has more than 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the United States and more than 175 shops internationally.

Kate Spade New York has four locations on Long Island — at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, Roosevelt Field in Garden City and the Tanger Outlets in Deer Park and Riverhead.

On Twitter Tuesday, the company bearing Spade’s name remembered its founder.

“Kate Spade, the visionary founder of our brand, has passed. Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly heartbreaking time. We honor all the beauty she brought into this world.”

Celebrities posted messages Tuesday remembering Spade and encouraging those considering suicide to seek assistance.

“Kate Spade’s tragic passing is a painful reminder that we never truly know another’s pain or the burden they carry,” tweeted Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump. “If you are struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, please, please seek help.”

Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, recalled that her grandmother gave her her first Kate Spade bag when she was in college.

“I still have it,” Clinton tweeted. “Holding Kate’s family, friends and loved ones in my heart.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Spade earned a degree in journalism from Arizona State University. She met her future husband when they were both working at a men’s clothing store.

Spade, the daughter of a housewife and a construction company owner, went to work at Mademoiselle magazine in Manhattan, eventually becoming the accessories editor.

She left the magazine in 1991, seeing an opening in the handbag market, which she argued was too pricey and serious.

Spade emptied the $6,000 in her 401(k) and in 1993 opened a small boutique selling her own brand of handbags in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. Through the years, the company grew into an international brand, with her bags selling in high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s.

Kate Spade New York would go on to sell a host of accessories, including shoes, jewelry and eyewear.

In 1999 Spade and her partners sold 56 percent of the business to Neiman Marcus for $34 million. They sold the remaining shares in 2006 for $59 million, according to Forbes. Neiman Marcus later sold the brand to Liz Clairborne Inc. for $124 million. In 2017, the brand was sold again to Coach, now known as Tapestry Inc. for $2.4 billion.

Selling the company “freed me up to start with a clean slate and create something new,” Spade told Newsday in 2016.

Wainscott resident Ginny Edwards, 60, said she worked with Spade as the creative director at Coach and also with the designer and her husband at a Manhattan advertising agency.

“She was someone you really rooted for because she was a great personality and she was real,” Edwards said of Spade while trying on eyeglasses at Main Street Optics in Southampton. “She was authentic and she was kind of wacky and fun.”

In 2015, the Spades, along with friends Elyce Arons and Paola Venturi, launched Frances Valentine, a shoe and handbag line. Frances is the name of the Spades’ 13-year-old daughter and Valentine is the middle name of Kate Spade’s grandfather.

“I feel like my aesthetic has evolved,” Spade told Newsday at the time of the new venture. “I still love the unexpected, but I’m paying close attention to the architecture. It’s similar to a designer moving from one house to another.”

Andy Spade is the brother of comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” star David Spade, while Kate Spade was the aunt of Rachel Brosnahan, star of the “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

With Alison Fox, Janelle Griffith, Mark Morales, Pervaiz Shallwani and AP

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