The news of designer Kate Spade’s death has prompted an outpouring of grief and reflections by many, including those closest to the fashion industry icon who apparently killed herself Tuesday.
Her sister has communicated with their hometown newspaper via email, revealing some details about the demons she said her sister had been fighting, which other family members are challenging.
Sister Reta Saffo told The Kansas City Star via email that Spade’s death was “not unexpected,” adding that she suffered from mental illness.
Saffo had helped her sister get in-patient hospitalization treatments “several times in the past 3-4 years,” she wrote to the Missouri newspaper.
“I felt all the stress/pressure of her brand (KS) may have flipped the switch where she eventually became full-on manic depressive,” Saffo told the Star.
Saffo also told the newspaper that her sister was particularly interested in the news coverage of comedian Robin Williams’ suicide in 2014.
“We were freaked out/saddened,” Saffo wrote to the paper, “but she kept watching it and watching it over and over. I think the plan was already in motion even as far back as then.”
An unnamed source close to the family told People Magazine that other members of the clan are upset over Saffo’s comments, and calling into question how close Saffo had been with her sister in recent years.
“The family is disgusted and saddened that at this time of great sorrow, Kate’s sister, who has been estranged from the entire family for more than 10 years, would choose to surface with unsubstantiated comments,” the source told People. “Her statements paint a picture of someone who didn’t know her at all.”
Two relatives of the designer whose comments are not being questioned are those of her brother-in-law, comedian David Spade, and niece, actress Rachel Brosnahan.
The comedian’s connection to Kate Spade comes through his brother Andy Spade, who had been married to the designer for 24 years at the time of her death Tuesday.
David Spade, 53, talked about “Katy” in posts on social media in the wake of her apparent suicide.
The first post came on Twitter, where he shared an undated picture of her visiting him during a book-signing, where she is seen smiling while looking at him and wearing what appears to be a green ribbon as a headband.
“Katy at my book signing. I love this pic of her. So pretty. I don’t think everyone knew how f—— funny she was… Its a rough world out there people. Try to hang on,” he wrote in the post.
Shortly after, he posted a picture on Instagram of him with his sister-in-law from an undated Christmas gathering.
“Fuzzy picture but i love it. Kate and I during Christmas family photos. We had so much fun that day. She was so sharp and quick on her feet. She could make me laugh so hard. I still cant believe it. Its a rough world out there people, try to hang on,” he wrote.
Another famous member of the designer’s extended family is actress Rachel Brosnahan, best known for the starring role in the television show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Brosnahan, whose father is Kate Spade’s brother, posted a video on her Instagram account this morning.
“Knowing Katy, this is how she would want to be remembered. She had a light that words can’t capture but touched everyone she came into contact with. She was exceedingly kind, beautifully sensitive, insanely talented, funny as heck and one of the most generous people I have ever known. She was effervescent. Hug your loved ones extra tight today,” Brosnahan wrote.
Knowing Katy, this is how she would want to be remembered. She had a light that words can’t capture but touched everyone she came into contact with. She was exceedingly kind, beautifully sensitive, insanely talented, funny as heck and one of the most generous people I have ever known. She was effervescent. Hug your loved ones extra tight today.
The 55-year-old fashion designer, who became best known for her eponymous line, was found dead in her Manhattan apartment Tuesday morning.
She started the Kate Spade line with her husband in 1993 and she eventually sold all her shares in the company in 2006. She launched a new line in 2016 called Frances Valentine in 2016.
Kate Spade is survived by her husband and their 13-year-old daughter Frances Beatrix.