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Icons and Influencers

Kate Spade’s husband says she had been treated for depression for five years, slams release of suicide note

Andy Spade says he and his designer wife had been living apart, but had not discussed divorce, rejecting claims of her sister

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 June, 2018, 11:36pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2018, 8:26pm

Designer Kate Spade, who committed suicide in New York this week, had been treated for depression and anxiety for five years, her husband said Wednesday.

“She was actively seeking help for depression and anxiety over the last five years, seeing a doctor on a regular basis and taking medication for both depression and anxiety,” her husband Andy Spade said in a statement carried by The New York Times.

It was a blunt rebuke to claims by the designer’s sister that Kate Spade needed mental health care but refused treatment over concerns about potentially hurting the light-hearted brand.

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The death of the 55-year-old star designer, whose body was found Wednesday in her Park Avenue apartment, “was not unexpected by me,” Spade’s older sister Reta Saffo told The Kansas City Star from her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Andy Spade also used his statement to express disgust that a suicide note, in which his wife reportedly told their daughter not to blame herself. “I have yet to see any note left behind and am appalled that a private message to my daughter has been so heartlessly shared with the media,” he said.

Spade - a Missouri native who first worked as a journalist, including a stint as accessories editor at Mademoiselle magazine - launched her Kate Spade fashion label in 1993 with her husband Andy and the help of outside investors.

Spade remembered as vibrant and colourful, like her creations

Her cheerful use of bright colours and prints proved a hit with career women. Over a decade ago, she sold the business and later launched a luxury line Frances Valentine.

Celebrity news website TMZ cited police sources as saying Spade had fallen into depression in recent weeks after her husband left her and was seeking divorce.

Andy Spade said that the couple had been living apart but in the same neighbourhood, caring for their 13-year-old daughter Bea.

“Our daughter was our priority. 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 Spade added.

Kate Spade’s death leaves Hong Kong fans shocked, saddened

“There was no substance or alcohol abuse. There were no business problems. We loved creating our businesses together. We were co-parenting our beautiful daughter,” he stressed.

“My daughter and I are devastated by her loss, and can’t even begin to fathom life without her.”

Anna Wintour, the grand priestess of fashion and editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine, hailed Spade as a woman who “defined” authenticity.

“There was a moment when you couldn’t walk a block in New York without seeing one of her bags, which were just like her; colourful and unpretentious,” Wintour said in a statement.

“Kate designed with great charm and humour, and built a global empire that reflected exactly who she was and how she lived. Long before we talked about ‘authenticity,’ she defined it.”

Fashion designer Kate Spade commits suicide in her New York home

Several admirers such as First Daughter Ivanka Trump highlighted the importance of suicide helplines and seeing the signs of depression.

“Kate Spade’s tragic passing is a painful reminder that we never truly know another’s pain or the burden they carry. If you are struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, please, please seek help,” Trump tweeted.

Saffo, who is two years older than her famous sibling, said she had flown to New York several times in the past three to four years in an attempt to convince Spade to seek in-patient hospitalisation and that Andy Spade had supported those efforts. “She was all set to go — but then chickened out by morning,” she recalled.

She said her sister had become fixated with the 2014 suicide of Robin Williams, who also hanged himself.

Saffo concluded her email by saying, “She was a dear little person. So dear — so kind, so funny. I’ll miss our 6-7-hr-long phone conversations between NY and NM.” Then she added, “I’m off to bed for a good cry.”

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 28 960 000 for The Samaritans or +852 23 820 000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call The Lifeline on +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse and James Wilkinson