Born Katherine Brosnahan in her native of Kansas City, Missouri, the fashion designer ultimately took her own life inside her Park Avenue apartment leaving a suicide that came as no surprise to sister Reta Saffo.
“I will say this was not unexpected by me,” Saffo wrote in emails to the Kansas City Star newspaper.
“She was always a very excitable little girl and I felt all the stress/pressure of her brand (KS) may have flipped the switch where she eventually became full-on manic depressive”
Saffo said that within the past three or four years she tried and tried to get her sister Kate the help she so desperately needed.
“I’d come so VERY close to getting her to go in for treatment, [to the same place Catherine Zeta-Jones went for her successful bipolar treatment program].
I’d spoken with them on the phone [not telling them exactly who the patient would be]. They agreed to fly in and talk with her and take her with them to the treatment center,” Saffo wrote.
“She was all set to go, but then chickened out by morning. I even said I [would] go with her and be a ‘patient’ too [she liked that idea] . . . That seemed to make her more comfortable, and we’d get sooo close to packing her bags, but in the end, the ‘image’ of her brand [happy-go-lucky Kate Spade] was more important for her to keep up.
“She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out.”
Kate Spade seen with husband Andy and daughter Frances, was caught in the tossup between her health and the stress of maintaining her brand image, according to her sister
Spade’s husband and business partner, Andy Spade, also played a key role in the efforts to get the fashion icon to get help for her condition, to no avail, according to Saffo.
At some point, the family realized there was only so much that could be done: “After numerous attempts, I finally let go,” Saffo wrote.
“Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves!
Saffo said Spade made a dark and simple request – to come to her funeral. – One of the last things she said to me was, ‘Reta, I know you hate funerals. . . but for me would you PLEASE come to MINE, at least.”
“She was a dear little person. So dear — so kind, so funny. I’ll miss our 6-7-hr-long phone conversations between NY and NM,” Saffo wrote.