The other day the world learned some shocking news, iconic fashion designer Kate Spade, age 55, lived no more. Kate was the founder of the brand Kate Spade, where she designed handbags that, as she called it, were "a functional bag that was sophisticated and had some style”, according to The New York Times. The world went crazy for her handbags that sold on the high end. She ended up selling more than handbags - she expanded into jewelry, clothing, shoes, baby items, bedding, stationary, eyewear, and more.
It seemed that Kate Spade had it all. She had a company that was massively popular with tons of revenue. She was rich. But, as we have learned, she also suffered from mental illness. Kate, a mother of one, took her life in her luxury Manhattan apartment. Her housekeeper discovered her body.
As the world and tons of fans mourn the death of this regular gal turned fashionista, we have learned quite a bit about her family life. We have discovered more about her husband and her daughter. Kate had a lot going on. But as it seems, for Kate, it was too much to bear, and the only outlet for her was to end the suffering.
When Kate Spade was found on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, a suicide note was found alongside her. According to Page Six, which cites the police as their source, the suicide note left by Kate was intended for her daughter, Frances Beatrix, who is 13 years old. Imagine this young girl learning that her dear mother has just taken her own life. Page Six reports that the suicide note said,
“This has nothing to do with you,” the note reads in part, according to sources. “Don’t feel guilty. Ask your dad.”
When this was released to the media, many people speculated as to what Kate was talking about - what had she told her daughter? Why should she ask her father why she did what she did?
People.com reports that there was more to the note and that it also had a message for Kate’s husband, Andy Spade. “Police have publicly described Spade’s message as a “suicide note” but said they would not discuss its contents, and department spokespeople similarly declined when reached by PEOPLE. However, a police source confirms the note was intended for Spade’s family. The Associated Press reported that the note was meant in part to tell Spade’s daughter that the suicide was not her fault.”
Kate Spade’s husband, Andy Spade, was more than just her partner in life, he was her partner in the business, too. They knew each other for 25 years. Together, they built the brand Kate Spade from the bottom up. According to CNN, “Kate Spade married David Spade's brother, Andy, in 1994, one year after they started fashion brand Kate Spade New York together.” The two were regularly seen together and had a daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade, who is now 13 years old.
Andy Spade is the brother of actor and comedian David Spade. If you see the two together, you definitely see the resemblance! Whereas one opted for a life in the business world (that would be Andy), the other (that would be David) went straight to Hollywood.
According to CNN, David Spade knew his sister-in-law well and cared for her. David shared his thoughts on her death with CNN, "She was so sharp and quick on her feet," Spade added in his tribute. "She could make me laugh so hard. I still can't believe it." It appears Kate’s death left many people, friends, and family, with feelings of despair and grief. She was clearly loved by many.
Kate Spade was married to her husband, Andy Spade for 24 years. Apparently, their marriage may have been coming to an end. The pair, who share a daughter together, had recently separated, according to Page Six. Andy had moved out and was living in an apartment nearby, but apparently saw both Kate and his daughter, Frances, often.
The information that TMZ obtained from law enforcement points to the divorce as the cause of the depression that eventually led to Kate’s suicide by hanging.
TMZ continued to report that it was Andy who wanted the divorce. Kate did not want to end their marriage.
People.com reports that both parties had hired lawyers and that a divorce proceeding was in their near future. "The couple’s marital problems had become so difficult, that in the months prior to Kate’s suicide, Andy had started looking to purchase a new one or two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Kate and Andy were having relationship problems.” Interestingly enough, the People Magazine also reports that Andy has denied that they were seeking a divorce. So what's the truth, here? Did the idea of a divorce really push Kate over the edge causing her to resort to this extreme measure?
In an unsettling turn of events, the late Kate Spade’s husband, Andy, recently stepped out in public in, of all things, a mouse mask. Heavy.com was one of the first to break this bizarre news. Why would Andy leave his home wearing such a strange mask?
"It’s not clear why Spade, the brother of actor and comedian David Spade, was wearing the mouse mask, other than to avoid the scrutiny of photographers striving for photos of his emotional state after the shock death of his estranged wife, Kate, by suicide.”
This was one of the first public appearances by Kate Spade’s reportedly estranged husband. The idea that he would hide his face and seemingly make a laughing stock out of himself has many people scratching their heads. So what was this mouse mask he strangely decided to wear? According to Page Six, the mask is that of Bernard, “voiced by Bob Newhart in the 1977 cartoon movie, ‘The Rescuers.'” Andy Spade didn’t answer photographers’ questions. Instead, he snapped at them, “Do you know the meaning of privacy?” Andy Spade was with Kate for decades. For him to present himself in this fashion following her untimely and tragic death is altogether odd. Perhaps he has his reasons, but it does not look good on his part, that is for sure.
Kate Spade only had one child, a daughter named Frances Beatrix Spade, who was born in February 2005. Andy Spade is her father. The family of three seemed to be very close-knit. Both Kate and Andy largely kept Frances out of the spotlight and away from the media as much as they could. According to Good Housekeeping, Frances, at least when she was younger, would mostly only be seen in family photos that either Kate or Andy shared with the media or on social media.
Kate’s sweet little girl did not go by the name of Frances. Using her middle name, Beatrix, she was referred to as Bea. That was her nickname. That was her name. Bea. According to The Washington Post, the name "Frances is a longtime family name on my dad’s side. My grandfather, father, brother and my daughter’s name is Frances. And then Valentine was my mom’s dad’s middle name because he was born on Valentine’s Day,” Kate said in an interview in 2005.” Frances, better known as Bea, was not home when her mother committed suicide. Media reports mostly state that she was in school at the time of her mother’s death, which would make sense, since it all happened in the morning hours - at a time when Bea would be in school.
Being a good mother to Frances Beatrix was very important to Kate Spade. After Frances was born in 2005, Kate actually stepped away from her work for awhile. She wanted to focus on raising her baby daughter. According to Good Housekeeping, “Kate sold her final stock of Kate Spade New York to Neiman Marcus in 2006. In 2007, Kate decided to officially walk away from the brand to focus on raising her only child.”
She didn’t just take off a few weeks or months or even years. Kate took off a full decade from working for her fashion brand to be with her baby girl.
According to People Magazine, Kate Spade said in an interview, in 2016, that she "needed a break and I really wanted to raise my daughter" - she would not trade that time with her daughter in a million years. Clearly, being a mom and raising her daughter herself was very important to her, despite the fact she was wealthy and could easily afford as many nannies as she needed! We are not sure how Kate spent those 10 long years with her daughter, but it is likely that she spent it like any other stay at home mom would - being really busy! This is something that many people do not know about her, that she stopped working to be with her child.
Being the only child of a fashion genius, Frances was the complete apple of her mama’s eye and of her designs! Kate Spade designed a new brand that was completely inspired by her sweet, dear daughter, Frances Beatrix, or Bea, as we’ve learned to know. The name of the brand? Frances Valentine. Interestingly enough, Kate used to sometimes call herself Kate Valentine.
There is a story behind the start-up of the Frances Valentine collection. According to USA Today, “Kate launched her new line Frances Valentine after her daughter. Frances, then 12, would sometimes ask, “Why there are shoes with her mom’s name in them?" About two years ago, the Frances Valentine collection was born. People Magazine states that Kate actually legally changed her name to Kate Valentine Spade and regrets not including Valentine in Bea’s name when she was born. People also states, “The brand’s name came from combining both of her family’s names; Frances, from her father’s side of the family and Valentine, her mother’s.” So there is a reason for Valentine, it is in Kate’s family. Eventually, it became a brand. Unfortunately, due to her untimely death, Kate Valentine Spade will never see that brand grow.
Kate’s darling daughter, Bea, appears to want to be an actress! The young lady has appeared in a few short films, but according to Heavy.com, they are all made or produced by her father, Andy Spade. Bea even has her own IMDB.com page, where it lists two role credits for the young girl. Be on the lookout, we may get to see more of Bea as an actress!
According to Heavy.com, “In a project called The Pleasure of Being Robbed, in 2008, Bea actually is listed as playing 'Andy’s Daughter Bea'". In addition to Bea appearing in a couple projects, her father, Andy Spade, has been in the film industry as well. Andy Spade is actually a movie producer, who has created feature films with a company called Red Bucket Films. The Pleasure of Being Robbed was one of his films.
Another film Bea was in was a short called The Black Balloon in 2012. This is another film created by Bea’s dad, Andy, and the plot synopsis on IMDb describes it as this, “While trying to move 40 kids six New York City blocks all by himself, a stressed man accidentally loses a bouquet of a hundred balloons. In that bouquet, a lone black balloon scurries free from the rest. It dies and comes back to life, returning to the city, cruising for a companion. On its beat, it learns that humans are complicated creatures with extreme highs and lows, but full of life nonetheless. A film intended to be for children that turned into a sci-fi urban fable, this is the story of The Black Balloon.”
Kate Spade was the brand. She was the designer. She was the star. While she may have opted to take a hiatus for a decade from the fashion world, Kate Spade's brand was always her baby, but her human baby took precedence! Speaking to People Magazine in 2016, Kate stated,
“People asked me, ‘Don’t you miss it?’ I really didn’t. I mean, I loved what I was doing, but I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I might.”
Kate may not have missed it very much, but being the talented individual that she was, she had an feeling like she wanted to do something, and in 2016, the Frances Valentine collection was born. When interviewed by Town and Country, Kate said, “It’s really similar to how I started at Kate Spade. It was very scrappy. We started very small and we tried not to get ahead of ourselves—I’m from the Midwest, so I’m not much of a risk-taker.” We all wonder what will happen to Kate’s new brand, Frances Valentine now. Will Andy keep it going? Will it be sold? Will it be a part of Bea’s legacy, and is that something Bea would want?
If you are a fan of Amazon Prime’s original shows, you likely have seen The Marvelous Miss Maisel. Well, the actress who plays the main character, Rachel Brosnahan, was Kate Spade’s niece! If you look closely, you can kind of tell that they are related! Kate’s maiden name is Brosnahan.
Kate’s actress niece, Rachel, opened up about her famous aunt who perished in a horrific and tragic manner. Rachel took to social media to share the love that she had for her late aunt. Page Six reports, “She had a light that words can’t capture but touched everyone she came into contact with. She was exceedingly kind, beautifully sensitive, insanely talented, funny as heck and one of the most generous people I have ever known. She was effervescent. Hug your loved ones extra tight today.”
Kate was always super supportive of her niece, even saying this to Page Six after Rachel won a Golden Globe, “I am beside myself! My daughter and I jumped up and down when she won. She deserves this recognition, as she’s put her heart and soul into the role. We are insanely proud.” We are sure that Rachel is as shocked about her aunt’s death as the rest of us are.
It was not long after the 55 year old fashion icon took her life that her older sister, age 57, came forward with sad information that no one really wanted to hear. According to People.com,
Reta Brosnahan Saffo “made statements to multiple outlets on Tuesday night saying she believes her sister suffered from a mental illness for a number of years and that Spade’s suicide ‘was not unexpected by me.’”
People.com credits a close source with information that Kate’s older sister was practically estranged from Kate. However, Reta has told multiple media outlets that she always tried to get Kate the help she needed, but that her late sister was “concerned how hospitalization might harm the image of the happy-go-lucky Kate Spade brand,” and had “eventually became full-on manic depressive” due to the “stress and pressure” of her empire as reported by People.com. Kate’s sister believes she suffered from bipolar disorder. And added that, “Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves!” Perhaps Kate’s sister did try to get her help. We may never really know what actually occurred between the two sisters and whether anything that Reta is saying is actually, factually accurate.
Kate’s husband has come forward and refuted much of what Kate’s supposedly estranged sister has been telling the media. According to Today.com, “The family is disgusted and saddened at this time of great sorrow, Kate's sister, who had been estranged from the entire family for more than 10 years, would choose to surface with unsubstantiated comment.”
He goes on to tell Today.com, "We were not legally separated, and never even discussed divorce. We were best friends trying to work through our problems in the best way we knew how. We were together for 35 years. We loved each other very much and simply needed a break."
Andy and the daughter he shared with Kate, Bea, are obviously most likely to be the people most directly devastated by Kate’s death. Andy Spade gave this statement to People.com: “Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
As we learn more about Kate Spade’s death, her family members are revealing more about her mental health struggles. While some claims need to be taken with a grain of salt, such as the things Kate’s estranged sister has revealed, other things we can trust, such as what her father has come out and told us.
Kate Spade’s father, Frank Brosnahan is 90 years old and still lives in Kate’s hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. He told The Kansas City Star (as reported by Page Six) that he knew his dear daughter was having mental health issues.
It seems that Frank really had no clue just how seriously it could be. “The last I talked with her, the night before last, she was happy planning a trip to California to look at colleges. She doted on her daughter.”
According to Kate’s dad, she was taking prescription pills and he did not approve of this. We do not yet know what pills, if any, she was taking, but her father did not like it at all. Page Six reports that he “begged her not to take the medication she’d been prescribed. ‘She’d been taking some pills, which I advised her not to take.’”
Kate Spade was clearly an icon in the fashion world. Everyone knew her name - because of her famous brand. She was known by people around the globe, including celebrities, who have come out in droves expressing their heartfelt sympathies for the everyday woman from Kansas City who grew a billion dollar fashion empire.
Because of Kate’s prestige, she likely always got what she wanted - even if it wasn’t what she really wanted. This is known as the “yes culture”. No matter what, for Kate, the answer was always yes. Kate’s family members have come forward to express their feelings towards these yes people that were a daily part of Kate’s life. Kate’s own sister, whether she was estranged or not, believes these yes people contributed to Kate’s eventual death, and she may have a good point.
Kate’s sister truly “believes the disorder could have been brought on by her sister’s 'immense celebrity'. She never expected it — nor was she properly prepared for it. Unfortunately, untreated, it finally took its toll on her,” as reported by Page Six. Could Kate have been getting help? Her husband claims that she was speaking with doctors; however, we may never know the extent of the help she received, clearly, it was not enough.
Kate Spade literally grew her company from the ground up. Kate went from Kansas City, Missouri to a small, one bedroom apartment in Manhattan with her sights set on the fashion scene.
Her husband, Andy Spade, was by her side as her partner the entire way, and together, they created a billion dollar brand called Kate Spade.
According to Time magazine, “The Kate Spade brand started as a collection of handbags known for their clean lines and understated aesthetic, receiving praise from fashion critics and developing a loyal following as it morphed into a international business valued at $2.4 billion that made her worth an estimated $46.5 million, according to Forbes.” A year ago, Kate Spade sold her brand to Coach for $2.4 billion!
Kate clearly left behind a fortune, which is estimated to be around $200 million. Clearly, money does not buy happiness. All that money and Kate still was unable to get the help she so desperately needed. Her only child, her daughter Bea, will be okay financially, but after her mother’s horrific suicide, Bea will likely never be the same emotionally. So very sad. Rest In Peace Kate Valentine Spade.
References: Wikipedia, Page Six, People, Town and Country, Heavy.com, Yahoo! Lifestyle, Heavy.com, IMDB.com, Time.com/money, The Washington Post, USA Today