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SAD NEWS: Kate Spade, American Designer, Is Dead at 55

The American designer Kate Spade was found dead on Tuesday, according to police officials.

The police said that Ms. Spade, 55, was discovered unresponsive at a Park Avenue apartment, where she had hanged herself. She had left a note, but the official did not comment on what it said. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 10:26 a.m.

A housekeeper found Ms. Spade in her bedroom hanging from a red scarf tied to a doorknob, the police said. She was unconscious and the housekeeper called 911.

Ms. Spade’s husband was at the scene. A police spokesman did not know the whereabouts of Ms. Spade’s daughter.

Born Kate Brosnahan in Kansas City, Mo., in December 1962, Ms. Spade was one of the first of a powerful wave of female American contemporary designers in the 1990s.

She built a brand on the appeal of clothes and accessories that made women smile, her cheerful lack of restraint and bright prints striking a chord with consumers. She herself was the embodiment of her aesthetic, with her proto-1960s bouffant, nerd glasses and kooky grin, which masked a business mind that saw the opportunities in becoming a lifestyle brand, almost before the term officially existed.

Ms. Spade, who had been the accessories editor of Mademoiselle magazine, founded Kate Spade with her husband-to-be, Andy and a friend, Elyce Arons, in 1993. Frustrated with the handbags of the era, which she found to be over-accessorized, she had wanted “a functional bag that was sophisticated and had some style," she told The New York Times in 1999.

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