Kate and Andy Spade were partners in both business and life.
The fashion designer, who was found dead of an apparent suicide in her New York City apartment on Tuesday morning, married Andy in 1994, one year after launching the Kate Spade New York handbag line together.
Kate once told PEOPLE the secret to their happy marriage was “taking their vows seriously.”
“We laugh a lot,” said Spade, who welcomed daughter Frances Beatrix Spade in 2005. “And my daughter has a really funny sense of humor. But when we need to be serious we’re serious, and she can tell the difference, but I think we’ve had a lot of fun. And then also you know you take the good with the bad. You take those vows seriously. Through good and bad.”
Even after more than two decades of marriage, their love for each other was always obvious, the former head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Fern Mallis, told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview Tuesday.
“She and her husband were a hot couple,” Mallis said. “They were very much part of the front lane of the fashion universe. They seemed to be a perfect couple, very happy together. You never saw them out being contentious or not being there for one another.”
They also were open about their love for one another; when Kate Spade launched a fragrance in 2002, Andy told InStyle, “It’s sexy. I wear it when I miss her.” In the same article, Kate said of her husband, “Andy will be an amazing dad” – three years before the couple welcomed daughter Frances Beatrix.
Kate and Andy, who reportedly met while working as salespeople at a Carter’s Men’s Clothing in Phoenix, Ariz., sold and stepped away from their company in 2006 to spend more time with their daughter. Last July, Tapestry, Inc. purchased the company for $2.4 billion.
Kate, who legally changed her name to Kate Valentine Spade, later launched the accessories line, Frances Valentine, named for her daughter.
Kate told PEOPLE in 2016 she and her husband shared a mutual respect for each other both in and outside of the workplace, saying she treated her husband as she would any other employee.
“What I mean is we need to respect one another as much as you do the other people in the office because I can find myself if he’s on the phone, opening his door and going, ‘Hey, hey, I’ve got to tell you something,'” she said. “Now would you really go into someone else’s office and say, ‘Hey, hey, hey, hey, I’ve got to tell you something?’ No, you’d say, ‘Call me when you have a second.’ So I’ve had to learn to be as respectful.”
The couple, who Mallis says were “well-suited for one another,” had opposite personalities, according to Kate.
“He’s more relaxed more of a risk taker and I’m a little more detailed and uptight neurotic…” she said. “You can keep going on and on.”
Andy agreed, during a BUILD series discussion, saying, “It’s like a team of someone setting something up and someone finishing it, I think that’s how we usually work.”
Their creative styles were also shown off during a tour of their N.Y.C. apartment for PEOPLE’s Hollywood at Home series in 2016, where Andy was by her side throughout the day.
“Okay, favorite picture, a picture of Andy skateboarding when he was younger and yes, it turns out that he was cool,” she said while pointing out photographs and artwork she and Andy had collected over the years.
Their warm personalities were also apparent during an interview with Bon Appétit in 2012.
“We never reject anybody based on what they’re wearing,” Andy said of their low-key dinner parties. “If a guy showed up in a tank top, flip-flops, and a sailor hat, we’d say, ‘Come on in. Who are you?'”
They also shared their love for simple, easy food.
“Ideally it’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes, paired with elegant lighting, candles, and flowers,” Kate said. “For dessert, I serve Duncan Hines chocolate cake or banana cream pie. Give me a cake like your grandmother makes!”
“Katy likes hearty food, not some light, dainty fare,” Andy added. “My favorite is her chicken with vegetables.”
Police say Kate was found hanging from a red scarf Tuesday morning in her bedroom at her Park Avenue home in Manhattan. The scarf had reportedly been tied to her door.
A housekeeper discovered her, according to a police source, and she apparently left a suicide note, though its contents are not known at this time.
“We are all devastated by today’s tragedy,” the Spade family said in a statement. “We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).