Kate Spade's sister reveals harrowing conversation with fashion designer before her death

The heartbroken sister of US fashion designer Kate Spade has opened up on the 55-year-old’s battle with mental illness and the harrowing conversation they had before her death.

Spade, the designer who built a fashion empire on the popularity of her signature handbags before selling the brand, was found dead in her New York City apartment on Tuesday morning in an apparent suicide, police said.

Despite the outpouring of emotion in response to the fashion designer’s shock death, Spade’s sister Reta Saffo said it was “not unexpected” to her.

Ms Saffo told the Kansas City Star that family members tried desperately to help the fashion icon with her depression, but in the end the image of “happy-go-lucky Kate Spade” was more important to maintain.

Kate Spade, pictured with husband Andy Spade, was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment on Tuesday. Source: Getty
Kate Spade, pictured with husband Andy Spade, was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment on Tuesday. Source: Getty
The New York City chief medical examiner’s office said the cause of Spade’s death was under investigation. Source: AAP
The New York City chief medical examiner’s office said the cause of Spade’s death was under investigation. Source: AAP

“I will say this was not unexpected by me. I’d flown out to Napa and NYC several times in the past 3-4 years to help her to get the treatment she needed.

“I’d come so very close to getting her to go in for treatment… we’d get so close to packing her bags… she was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out.”

She said after numerous attempts to help Spade, Ms Saffo had to “finally let go” before revealing one of the final conversation’s they ever had.

“One of the last things she said to me was, ‘Reta, I know you hate funerals and don’t attend them, but for me would you please come to mine, at least. Please!’” she recalled.

“I know she perhaps had a plan, but she insisted she did not.”

Fans have posted on social media pictures of their favourite Kate Spade handbags. Source: AAP
Fans have posted on social media pictures of their favourite Kate Spade handbags. Source: AAP

In response to the death, fans of the brand began posting pictures of their favourite handbags on social media. Chelsea Clinton, former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s daughter, was among celebrities mourning Spade.

“My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college,” she wrote on Twitter. “I still have it.”

The New York City chief medical examiner’s office said the cause of Spade’s death was under investigation.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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