Fashion designer Kate Spade found dead in New York

Kate Spade, a fashion designer known for her sleek handbags, was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment Tuesday in an apparent suicide, law enforcement officials said.

The 55-year-old was found by housekeeping staff at about 10:20 a.m.

Her husband and business partner, Andy Spade, was in the house at the time, and the couple's 13-year-old daughter was at school, according to the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

A crime scene truck was parked outside their building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Barriers had been set up to keep back reporters and gawkers who were arriving to the building.

Spade built her namesake company into a popular lifestyle brand that now has retail shops and outlet stores across the globe. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

The company she founded, Kate Spade New York, now has more than 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the U.S. and more than 175 shops internationally.

"Kate will be dearly missed," said Julia Curry, a spokeswoman for the company.

"Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time."

Kate Spade, right, attends a 2006 gallery exhibition in Los Angeles with, from left, her husband Andy Spade, Courteney Cox and David Spade. (Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)

Spade, who was an accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine, launched her company with husband Andy (brother of comedic actor David Spade) in their apartment in 1993. She started the company based on six shapes of bags that she thought every working woman needed. It was a smash.

As an accessory, a great bag that takes the outfit somewhere else is interesting.– Kate Spade

"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," the Kansas City, Mo., designer told The Associated Press 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, which paid tribute in a statement Tuesday early afternoon.

"The CFDA is devastated to hear the news of our friend, colleague, and CFDA member Kate Spade's tragic passing," president Diane von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb said in a joint statement.

"She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories."

Spade was also 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.

Spade, right, is seen with her daughter Frances in 2009. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

She walked away from her namesake company in 2007, a year after it was acquired from the Neiman Marcus Group for $ 125 million US 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 US, seeking to broaden its appeal.

In 2016, Spade and her husband launched Frances Valentine, a new fashion line named after their daughter, who was born in 2005.

The designer had changed her name to Katherine Noel Frances Valentine Brosnahan Spade, she told NPR in an interview earlier this year.

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