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.