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Kate Spade, designer who built handbag empire, found dead

Updated: 2018-06-06 09:00
FILE PHOTO: Kate Spade arrives at the Council of Fashion Designers of America awards in New York on June 2, 2003, at the New York Public Library. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW YORK - Kate Spade, the designer who built a fashion empire on the popularity of her signature handbags before selling the brand, was found dead in her New York City apartment on Tuesday morning in an apparent suicide, police said.

Spade, 55, hanged herself and was found by her housekeeper at her home on Park Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side, the New York Daily News reported, citing unnamed police officials.

Born Katherine Noel Brosnahan in Kansas City, Missouri, Spade was a former accessories editor at the now-closed Mademoiselle magazine before she and Andy Spade launched their namesake design company, Kate Spade New York, in 1993. The couple married the following year.

They began by selling handbags before expanding to include clothing, jewelry, bedding, legwear and fragrances.

The brand grew into a fashion empire, known for accessories that offered affordable luxury to younger working women. Her brightly colored, clean-lined style offered a spunky take on fashion at time when luxury handbags were out of reach to most consumers and the industry was dominated by venerable European brands.

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