Kate Valentine (born Katherine Noel Brosnahan; December 24, 1962 – June 5, 2018), known professionally as Kate Spade, was an American fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the namesake and former co-owner of the designer brand Kate Spade New York.
Kate and Andy Spade founded Kate Spade New York in 1993. She sold 56% of the company to Neiman Marcus Group in 1999, and the rest of the company in 2006. In 2016, she and her partners launched a new fashion brand called Frances Valentine.
Brosnahan was born in Kansas City, Missouri, the daughter of June (Mullen) and Earl Francis Brosnahan.She was of mostly Irish descent. She graduated from St. Teresa's Academy, an all-girl Catholic high school. She attended the University of Kansas and then transferred to Arizona State University, joined Kappa Kappa Gamma, and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1985.
In 1986, she worked in the accessories department of Mademoiselle in Manhattan, where she was credited in the magazine's masthead with her maiden name as Katy Brosnahan. While at Mademoiselle, she moved in with Andy Spade, a native of Scottsdale, Arizona. The two had worked side-by-side as salespersons in a men's clothing store, Carter's Men Shop in Phoenix.
She left Mademoiselle in 1991, with the title of senior fashion editor/head of accessories. While working for Mademoiselle, she had noticed that the market lacked stylish and sensible handbags, and she decided to create her own.
Kate and Andy Spade launched the New York–based design company "kate spade handbags" in January 1993. The company sold mainly handbags at first, but soon extended to clothing, jewelry, shoes, stationery, eyewear, baby items, fragrances, tabletop, bedding and gifts. In 1996, the Kate Spade brand opened its first boutique, a 400-square-foot shop located in Manhattan'strendy SoHo district, and moved its headquarters into a 10,000-square-foot space in West 25th Street.
In 2004, "Kate Spade at home" was launched as a home collection brand. It featured bedding, bath items, china, wallpaper and various items for the home. She also shared about her personal style and philosophies in her three books: Manners, Occasions, and Style. The brand went international in 2004, when a store was opened in Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan.
Neiman Marcus Group purchased 56% of the Kate Spade brand in 1999, and acquired the remaining 44% in 2006. Neiman Marcus sold the Kate Spade label in 2006 for $124 million to Liz Claiborne Inc., which was later renamed to Fifth & Pacific. In February 2014, Fifth & Pacific changed its name to Kate Spade & Company. Coach, Inc. acquired Kate Spade for $2.4 billion in May 2017.Frances Valentine
After selling the remaining portion of her ownership stake in the Kate Spade brand in 2006, Spade took time off to raise her daughter. In 2016, she and her partners launched a new brand called Frances Valentine, a collection of luxury footwear and handbags. The name for the new brand is derived from Frances, a longtime family name on her paternal side. Spade's grandfather, father, brother and daughter’s name is Frances. The Valentine name came from her maternal side, with her grandfather's middle name coming from the fact he was born on Valentines's Day. In 2016, Spade also legally changed her personal name as well.
In 1996, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Spade "America's New Fashion Talent in Accessories" for her classic designs. In 1998, CFDA again honored her for "Best Accessory Designer of the Year".
Her home collection won her three design awards in 2004, including, House Beautiful's"Giants of Design Award for Tastemaker", Bon Appétit's "American Food and Entertaining Award for Designer of the Year", and Elle Decor's "Elle Decor International Design Award for Bedding".
In 2017, she was inducted into the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
Also in 2017, she was named one of the Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company.
Spade married Andy Spade, the brother of actor/comedian David Spade, in 1994. The couple had one child, Frances Beatrix Spade. Her niece is actress Rachel Brosnahan.
On June 5, 2018, Spade was found dead after apparently taking her own life in her Manhattan apartment. The police said she had hanged herself.
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