Remembering Kate Spade: Look Back at Her Life in Pictures 1 Year After Death

The fashion designer died by suicide in June 2018

By Elyse Dupre 05 Jun, 2019 10:00 AMTags
Kate SpadeWendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It's been one year since Kate Spade's death. 

The fashion designer was found unconscious and unresponsive in her New York apartment on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. She was 55 years old. The Medical Examiner's Office later ruled her death suicide by hanging.

In a statement to E! News, Kate's husband, Andy Spade, revealed she had "suffered from anxiety and depression for many years" and had been "actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease." He also described her death as a "complete shock."

"Kate was the most beautiful woman in the world," he stated at the time. "She was the kindest person I've ever known and my best friend for 35 years. My daughter and I are devastated by her loss, and can't even begin to fathom life without her. We are deeply heartbroken and miss her already."

Kate was laid to rest in her hometown of Kansas City, Mo.

After her death, her eponymous brand, which she confounded with Andy and later sold, pledged to donate more than $1 million to suicide prevention and mental health causes. Her brother-in-law, David Spade, also made a $100,000 donation to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Born Katherine Brosnahan, Kate launched the brand Kate Spade with Andy in 1993. Together, they grew the company into an empire. According to Forbes, they sold 56 percent of the brand to Neiman Marcus in 1999 for $34 million and then the remaining shares to Neiman Marcus in 2006 for a reported $59 million. Shortly after, Neiman Marcus formed a deal to offload the company to Liz Claiborne for a reported $124 million. Coach completed its acquisition of the brand in July 2017 for $2.4 billion.

In 2016, Kate and Andy launched a new brand called Frances Valentine with their friend and business partner Elyce Arons.

Over the course of her career, Kate received numerous accolades for her designs, including two CFDA Awards. She was also a proud parent to her daughter Frances Beatrix Spade, "Bea" for short.

To look back at her career and personal life, see the gallery below.

1962-1996: The Birth of a Brand

Born Katherine Brosnahan, Kate Spade entered the world on Dec. 24, 1962. She grew up in Kansas City, Mo. and later attended the University of Kansas, where she met her future business partner Elyce Arons. The two later transferred to Arizona State University, where she met her future husband Andy Spade. Kate graduated with a journalism degree in 1985 and went on to work at Mademoiselle magazine in New York. Then, in 1993, she launched the handbag brand, Kate Spade, with Andy. The two married in 1994. Three years into her business, the two opened their first storefront in Soho and won the International Award from the Council of Fashion Designs of America.

1998: Kate Wins Her Second CFDA International Award

Two years after her first win, the designer brought home the International Award for her influence.

1999-2002: Kate Introduces Jack Spade and Cosmetics

In the late '90s and early 2000s, the success of the brand continued to grow, venturing in menswear and men's accessories through their new company, Jack Spade. Kate also expanded her feminine line into cosmetics, partnering with Estee Lauder, shoes and fragrance. According to Forbes, Kate sold 56 percent of the company to Neiman Marcus in 1999 for $34 million.

2003: Follow the Leader

Kate, as seen here at the Met Gala with Andy, was a clear leader in the accessories industry, staying at the forefront of the needs of the modern American woman.

2004: The Digital Storefront

As a leader in the accessories industry, Kate and Andy made the decision to move into e-commerce, becoming one of the first fashion brands to do so. Now known for their appealing storefronts, the designer and marketing executive aimed to bring their bright perspective online.

2005: A Family of Three

In 2005, the designer gave birth to her first child—a daughter named Frances Beatrix Spade ("Bea" for short).

2006: The Next Chapter

In 2006, the brand sold its remaining shares to Neiman Marcus for a reported $59 million, per Forbes. Liz Claiborne Inc. then bought the company for a reported $124 million. Kate and Andy left the company. Coach would acquire the company in 2017 for a reported $2.4 billion.

2008: Her Design Legacy

Although Kate was no longer a part of the company, her unique sense of style continued to make a cultural impact, as seen here in CW's teen drama, Gossip Girl.

2016: Back to Business

The dynamic business partners decided to start over with a new brand, Frances Valentine. Although the company had no affiliation to Kate Spade New York, it placed Kate's super-feminine, Americana aesthetic in the forefront, making the brands somewhat similar in design.

2018: Kate's Death

Kate was found unconscious and unresponsive in her New York apartment on Tuesday, June 5, 2018. She was 55 years old. The Medical Examiner's Office ruled her death suicide by hanging.