The designer understood what women want – which is why her death has deeply affected so many

Lots of people on Twitter were really upset by Kate Spade’s death. Can you tell me more about her?
David, by email

Suicide is always horrific, but the Kate Spade brand is predicated on happiness, sunshine, bright colours, gentility, sweetness. As the actor Mindy Kaling tweeted on Tuesday: “You couldn’t walk into her boutiques and not smile.” Spade and her husband, Andy, repeatedly claimed in their interviews, before they sold her eponymous label just over a decade ago, that the brand was an extension of Spade’s personality, all cheerfulness and ease. Certainly, Spade projected this in interviews and photos, where she played a smart double game of coming across like a cheerful 50s fantasy and an astute, modern businesswoman. The sudden glimpse into the blackness that lay behind all that, and the realisation of how hard Spade must have worked to keep it hidden for the sake of her brand – coming across as happy and dynamic when often she must have felt otherwise – was shocking and heartbreaking.

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