Remembering Kansas City native Kate Spade

However, the designer and her husband had cashed out of her eponymous fashion empire by 2007.

Saffo spoke to DailyMail.com about her sister's mental health after news of her death emerged.

It's not clear how long she had been dead. By 2015, Spade sold her company to shoe designer Stuart Weitzman for $574 million.

"We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly", Kate's family said in a statement to to the New York Daily News. This is not your fault.

Spade's apparent suicide on Tuesday, at age 55 inside the bedroom of her New York Park Avenue apartment, "was not unexpected by me", Reta Saffo, Spade's older sister by two years, told The Star by email from her house in Santa Fe, N.M.

A source tells ET that the late Kate Spade had become withdrawn from friends and family before her death, leading many of them to worry about her well-being. She added, "Sometimes you simply can not SAVE people from themselves!" "Please!' I know she perhaps had a plan, but she insisted she did not".

Saffo noted that she'd anxious that her sister had become "full-on manic depressive".

The same words used so often to describe Kate Spade's enormously popular handbags - "It" bags that were both aspirational and affordable - were an apt description of the woman herself, say many in the fashion world.

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My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. David and Kate - who married David's brother, Andy, in 1994 - sweetly smile at each other in the blurry photo. "But also elegant", she said in the interview.

The designer, 55, started Kate Spade New York in 1993 and opened her first shop in the city three years later, the company's website states.

But, Saffo says that her sister's struggle with mental illness and thoughts of suicide have gone on for years. Saffo said that she "tried numerous times to get her help".

"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", it said.

Kate Spade's fashion brand, Frances Valentine, has broken its silence following the designer's death.

Investigators say she left behind a note addressed to her 13-year-old daughter, indicating that she was dealing with financial and marital issues. "She was all set to go - but then chickened out by morning", she recalled. - The same apartment she reportedly took her own life in.

Added Saffo, "My little sister Katy was a precious, precious little person".

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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