Fashion designer Kate Spade has been found dead in her New York apartment.
Police are investigating her death as an apparent suicide.
She was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan at 10:20 local time (14:20 GMT) by her housekeeper, a law enforcement official said.
Spade – who once edited fashion magazine Mademoiselle – was well known as a designer of clothes, shoes, and jewellery, but was best known for her accessory line.
Stellar business career
She co-founded Kate Spade Handbags in 1993 with husband Andy Spade. The company – whose stated aim was to design the perfect handbag – opened its first store in New York in 1996, and now has more than 300 branches worldwide.
It is recognisable for its distinctive logo which features the spades playing card symbol, in reference to the designer’s surname.
The company’s bright and colourful patterned designs became a trademark of its products.
Kate Spade sold her namesake brand in 2007.
It was bought last year by New York rival designer Coach in a deal worth $ 2.4bn (£1.8bn).
She and her husband then set up another design venture, Frances Valentine, named after their daughter.
Kate Spade legally changed her name to Kate Valentine (Valentine was her grandfather’s middle name) in 2016 to “separate the two worlds”.
Quirky fun and country club
By Natalie Sherman, BBC News business reporter, New York
In the 25 years since Kate Spade’s founding, the name has become a byword for a certain preppy style.
The former fashion editor told the New York Times she was looking for function, sophistication and “some style” when she launched her line of handbags in 1993, uninspired by other purses of the era.
Her look – bright colours and clear lines – quickly gained traction, appearing on the shelves of upmarket New York department stores like Barney’s.
In 1999, Neiman Marcus took a majority stake, sealing the firm’s ascendance in the fashion world and as a brand that embodied quirky fun, without straying too far from the country club.
The New York Police Department confirmed the 55 year old’s death under her birth name, Katherine Noel Brosnahan.
The designer left behind a note, police said, but declined to discuss its contents.
The Spade family released a statement asking for privacy as they processed her death, the New York Times reported.
“We are all devastated by today’s tragedy. We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”
What has been the reaction?
News of Kate Spade’s death has led to many tributes to her work.
Designer Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb, executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, released a joint statement expressing their condolences.
“The CFDA is devastated to hear the news of our friend, colleague and CFDA member Kate Spade’s tragic passing.
“She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories.”
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