Kate Spade's longtime friend says the couple always seemed happy when out together in public

By Kaitlyn Frey and Charlotte Triggs
June 06, 2018 12:25 PM

Despite reports that Kate Spade and husband Andy Spade were experiencing “relationship problems” before her death, actress and longtime friend of the family Cornelia Guest says she never noticed any marital strife between the couple.

“They seemed to be the perfect, happy family,” Guest exclusively tells PEOPLE, adding, “Nobody knows what’s going on with someone. When the doors close, you never know.”

“I knew her from being in New York for years and years,” she says. “We saw each other all the time. They were a very social couple, but you have to go out for business, of course. It’s a rat race. You don’t create a brand like that sitting on your a–. It’s her name on the door, no matter who you are working for.”

Charles Eshelman/Getty; Rabbani and Solimene Photography/Getty

Guest (above right) also says the designer’s loving relationship with 13-year-old Frances Beatrix was very evident: “They were so close. She was just a cute little girl.”

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Like many others, Guest is still mourning the loss after news broke yesterday that the American designer and founder of namesake label Kate Spade New York was found dead in her N.Y.C. of an apparent suicide.

“It’s so sad. She was beautiful and elegant and charming. She stayed true to form. She was always smiling, always happy, she had beautiful manners, and she always looked beautiful,” Guest says.

She adds, “Every girl wanted to have a piece of Kate Spade. She was such an inspiration. It was aspirational and charming and whimsical and elegant. I still saw her around after the sale of her brand. Any time you create something like that, it’s got to be hard to step away. She was always creating.”

According to a report from The Blast, Kate’s husband of 24 years had been looking to purchase a new one or two-bedroom apartment in New York City due to marital problems before her death. “Kate and Andy were having relationship problems,” a source told PEOPLE of the couple.

Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan/Getty

Andy, who is the brother of actor and comedian David Spade, was in the apartment at the time of his wife’s suicide while their daughter was at school, as reported by the Associated Press.

David paid tribute to the beloved handbag creator on Instagram Tuesday, hours after news of her death was made public.

“Fuzzy picture but I love it. Kate and I during Christmas family photos. We had so much fun that day. She was so sharp and quick on her feet. She could make me laugh so hard,” wrote David, who is the brother of Kate’s husband of 24 years and Kate Spade New York co-founder, Andy Spade.

“I still can’t believe it. It’s a rough world out there people, try to hang on,” David added.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel actress Rachel Brosnahan, who is Kate’s niece, also shared fond memories of her aunt on Instagram after the news broke.

Walter McBride/Getty

“Knowing Katy, this is how she would want to be remembered,” wrote the 27-year-old actress. “She had a light that words can’t capture but touched everyone she came into contact with. She was exceedingly kind, beautifully sensitive, insanely talented, funny as heck and one of the most generous people I have ever known. She was effervescent.”

She added, “Hug your loved ones extra tight today.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).