Beauty company slammed over ad referencing Kate Spade's suicide: 'SICK JOKE'

A large beauty empire has come under fire over an "insensitive" and "tone-deaf" email that was sent out to customers promoting Kade Spade New York fragrances.

"Come hang with Kate Spade," Ulta Beauty wrote in an email which unintentionally referenced the late designer’s death by suicide.

Spade, a popular American designer famed for her collection of handbags and accessories, was found dead at her New York apartment in June 2018. Her death was ruled a suicide by hanging. She was 55.

Kade Spade and her husband Andy Spade (left) Fashion designer Kate Spade (right)
Kade Spade and her husband founded the company in the 90s which was known for its selection of handbags and accessories. Source: Getty

Fans were shocked by the recent reference and expressed outrage on social media."I cannot believe I got this email today. Is this some kind of sick joke? How insensitive and absolutely tone-deaf," fumed one Twitter user.

"Apparently nobody in marketing at Ulta remembers how Kate Spade died. Disgusting," they added.

Another said the move was "extremely inappropriate and insensitive."

Ulta Beauty issues an apology: 'Deeply sorry'

Ulta Beauty, an American chain of beauty stores, issued a statement to the New York Post on Monday apologising for the slip-up.

"Mental health is a very serious, important issue in this country, and not something we would ever take lightly," it reportedly said.

"We apologise to the Spade family, our Kate Spade New York brand partners and to our guests. Thank you for understanding as we strive to do better."

The company also posted an apology on Twitter and said it was "deeply sorry for our mistake and the insensitive nature of the email​".

A subsequent email also went out to customers apologising for the "very insensitive choice of words" which were used in the initial newsletter.

Ulta Beauty store front in USA
Ulta Beauty is a mega beauty company that has stores across the USA. Source: Getty

Fashion designer had 'personal demons she was battling'

Kate Spade, born Katherine Noel Brosnahan, founded Kate Spade New York in 1993 with her husband Andy Spade.

They began by selling handbags before expanding to include clothing, jewellery, bedding, leg wear and fragrances.

The couple sold their last stake in the brand in 2006 to focus on raising their daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade.

In 2016, they launched a new footwear and accessories brand called Frances Valentine, naming it after her.

The handbag company Tapestry Inc (TPR.N), formerly known as Coach, bought the Kate Spade brand in May 2017 to tap millennials, who are drawn to the company’s quirky satchels and colourful tote bags.

At the time of her death in 2018, Kate Spade New York released a statement calling the news “incredibly sad”.

"Although 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," the statement said.

"Kate will be dearly missed."

Meanwhile, Andy released his own statement explaining “there were personal demons she was battling".

"Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives," he wrote in 2018.

If you are experiencing mental health issues or suicidal feelings contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 224 636. If it is an emergency please call 000.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.