Kate Spade, Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood, Is Dead at 55

Kate Spade, Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood, Is Dead at 55

She and Mr. Spade, Mr. Silverberg said, understood “how to reach an audience without alienating a consumer. Katie’s from Kansas City — a quintessential American look and values personified everything they did.”

Ms. Wintour said in her statement that when Ms. Spade started her label, “everyone thought that the definition of a handbag was strictly European, all decades-old serious status and wealth. Then along came this thoroughly American young woman who changed everything. 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; colorful and unpretentious.”

The company they founded changed hands over the years. Neiman Marcus Group sold the company to Liz Claiborne, Inc. in 2006. By 2017, when Kate Spade & Company (as the former Liz Claiborne, Inc. eventually came to be known) was acquired by Coach, Inc., Mr. and Ms. Spade had been gone for more than a decade, having left to devote themselves to other projects.

A spokeswoman for Kate Spade New York said in a statement that while “Kate has not been affiliated with the brand for more than a decade, she and her husband and creative partner, Andy, were the founders of our beloved brand. Kate will be dearly missed. Our thoughts are with Andy and the entire Spade family at this time.”

She is survived by her husband, and daughter, Frances Beatrix.

Ms. Spade dedicated herself to her family and to philanthropy, through the Kate Spade & Company Foundation, which is devoted to economic equality for women. In 2016, together with her husband, Ms. Arons and Paola Venturi, a Kate Spade alum, Ms. Spade launched a new venture, an accessories label called Frances Valentine. She was so committed to the project that she added Valentine to her name.

Mr. Zee said he always admired Ms. Spade for being ahead of her time.

“She knew what the fashion world needed before we did,” he said. “Kate just did what she felt was right, regardless of what the industry would think.”

Credit: Kate Spade, Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood, Is Dead at 55