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Designer Kate Spade Dead at 55

Kate Spade, of the sparkly iPhone cases and metallic ballet flats, has died. She was found in her Upper East Side home in Manhattan Tuesday morning, and the cause of death has been reported as suicide.

Her death is currently under investigation and we will update this story as more details become available.

Kate Spade began her career as a fashion editor at Mademoiselle magazine and prototyped her first handbag in 1992 out of construction paper. She launched her accessories line in 1993, with the help of then boyfriend, now husband Andy Spade. (Who also happens to be the brother of David Spade.) The legendary square ‘Sam’ handbag quickly became a best-seller and one of the ‘it bags’ of the 1990s. Within a decade, the Spades sold 56% of their handbag business to Neiman Marcus for $33.6 million. Currently, Kate Spade is owned by Tapestry, the parent company of Coach who bought the brand last year in a $2.4 billion deal.

Spade was known for her kooky heiress style, which was often reflected in her approach to designing accessories. A 2003 profile in Fortune magazine describes Kate as wearing “clunky vintage costume jewelry with a boxy fuchsia jacket” and looking like “Audrey Hepburn’s best friend.”

Often pink and often sparkly, Kate Spade accessories contain a sort of boundless optimism. They present a winking take on femininity that manages to be traditional and irreverent at the same time. More than anything, Kate Spade accessories are known as fun.

Her death comes as an absolute shock to the fashion industry and her presence will be dearly missed.

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