Kate Spade died from suicide by hanging, medical examiner rules

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NEW YORK — New York City’s chief medical examiner has ruled fashion designer Kate Spade’s death a suicide by hanging.

The determination was released Thursday, two days after the 55-year-old Spade was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment.

A housekeeper discovered her body in her bedroom. Police say she left a note that pointed to “a tragic suicide.”

Spade’s husband and business partner says she suffered from depression and anxiety for many years.

Andy Spade said in a statement Wednesday that his wife was seeing a doctor regularly and was taking medication to treat her disease.

He said she “sounded happy” the night before and her death was a complete shock.

Andy Spade said his main concern is protecting their 13-year-old daughter’s privacy as she deals with “unimaginable grief.”

Kate Spade was born Katherine Brosnahan and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.

She was working as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine when she launched her company with husband Andy in their New York apartment in 1993. She started the company based on six shapes of bags that she thought every working woman needed. It created a smash.

“I grew up in the Midwest, where you have to have it [a fashion item] because you like it, not because you’re supposed to have it,” she told the AP in 2004. “For our customers, fashion is in the right place in their life. It’s an adornment, not an obsession.”

From the original boxy handbags, she expanded into shoes, luggage and other accessories, as well as a home line, stationery, and three books. Spade won multiple awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and was named a “giant of design” by House Beautiful magazine.

“As an accessory, a great bag that takes the outfit somewhere else is interesting,” she told the AP in a 2000 interview.

She walked away from the company in 2007, a year after it was acquired from the Neiman Marcus Group for $125 million by the company then known as Liz Claiborne Inc.

Coach, now known as Tapestry, bought the Kate Spade brand last year for $2.4 billion, seeking to broaden its appeal.

Meanwhile, Spade and her husband — brother of comedian David Spade — started a new handbag company a few years ago, Frances Valentine. And she changed her name to Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade.