NEW YORK • Andy Spade, the husband of designer Kate Spade, who died of what New York police characterised as suicide this week, said on Wednesday that she had suffered from severe depression and acknowledged that they had been living apart for the last 10 months.
He said there were no plans for divorce. Mr Spade was speaking publicly for the first time since her death.
The 55-year-old designer, with her husband and business partner, built an idea about a handbag into what became a billion-dollar brand, marked by an optimism that resonated deeply with many women for almost three decades.
Mr Spade said that although his wife had suffered from anxiety at points during their relationship and marriage, her serious bouts of depression began only about six years ago, at the age of 49.
He also said that she had been seeing a private doctor regularly and was taking medication for her condition.
"There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn't her. There were personal demons she was battling," he said.
Andy and Kate Spade, who married 24 years ago and started the brand Kate Spade together in 1993 and the brand Frances Valentine in 2016, had been unofficially separated for just under a year.
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According to Mr Spade, they maintained different apartments a few blocks from each other, but continued to take vacations together, and their daughter, Frances Beatrix, split her time between them.
She was with her father the night of her mother's death and Mr Spade said of his wife: "We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this."
He also said neither he nor anyone else in the family had been shown the note left by Spade, but had read about it in media accounts.
"I am appalled that a private message to my daughter has been so heartlessly shared with the media," Mr Spade said.
According to police sources, the note was addressed to the couple's daughter, expressing that she should not feel at fault.
Reports in TMZ and the New York Post speculated that it was Mr Spade's desire to end the marriage that caused his wife's depression, while Spade's older sister, Reta Saffo, told The Kansas City Star that Spade's suicide was "not unexpected" and that her sister had refused to get treatment for her depression because of fear it might damage her brand.
However, Spade's older brother, Earl Brosnahan, said Ms Saffo had been estranged from the rest of the family for more than 10 years, to the extent that she did not attend their mother's funeral in 2010. But he acknowledged that Spade had been in sporadic contact with Ms Saffo in recent years.
Both Mr Brosnahan and Spade's business partner Elyce Arons said they had been aware of Spade's depression and the separation.
Mr Brosnahan said he became aware of "her sadness, which is what we liked to call it" about 18 months ago.
He added they had not discussed the subject of divorce, although he did believe some of her sadness derived from having grown apart from her husband.
Ms Arons, who worked with both Kate and Andy Spade during the period they were separated, said they continued to work well together.
"Katy was very happy most of the time, the funniest person in the world, and sometimes she would get really sad," she said. "She really felt she could power through it on her own."