On June 5, 2018, Katherine Noel Brosnahan, known as Kate Spade, was found dead in her New York City apartment by apparent suicide. She was 55.
Spade had recently returned from a hiatus after selling her brand, Kate Spade, in 2006. She launched her latest fashion brand, Frances Valentine in 2016 to begin a new fashion era. However, that was short-lived with breaking news that Spade’s housekeeper found her hanging inside her apartment around 10:30 a.m.
Among the African American celebrities known to rock Spade’s designs are Janelle Monae, Anika Noni Rose, Christina Milian and Kerry Washington.
Born Katherine Noel Brosnahan in Kansas City, Mo., she attended Arizona State University where she met Andy Spade. After graduating with a degree in journalism in 1985, Spade visited New York and was hired for a temp job in Mademoiselle magazine as editor for accessories.
After working there a while, Spade noticed handbags weren’t fashionable and feminine as she would prefer. In 1993, she and her husband launched Kate Spade New York. They later extended their collection and sold clothing, jewelry, shoes, eyewear and more. Over time, Spade went on to open a boutique in Manhattan, and her brand headquarters on West 25th Street.
Other companies began buying portions of Kate Spade and it became known as Kate Spade & Company. Neiman Marcus Group purchased 56 percent of the luxury design brand for $33.6 million and acquired the remaining 44 percent for $59 million in 2006.
Kate and Andy Spade devoted their time to their daughter, Frances Spade, which left them on hiatus until 2016. With their new brand, Frances Valentine, named after their daughter Frances, they began selling handbags and shoes.
(Destiny Royston is a MPLOY Youth Summer Experience intern for The New Tri-State Defender. A rising junior at the University of Memphis, she attended Southwest Tennessee Community College.)