Kate Spade's Former Publicist Says the Designer 'Isolated' Herself

Rob Shuter says Spade isolated herself from the fashion world towards the end of her life

Accessories designer Kate Spade died from an apparent suicide in her Manhattan apartment on Tuesday, leaving behind a 13-year-old daughter Frances, husband Andy Spade, as well as many friends and fans who were shocked by the tragic news.

Her former longtime publicist, Rob Shuter, offered some insight into Spade’s mindset, claiming that the famously upbeat fashion world fixture was struggling with feelings of loneliness and dealing with marital issues.

“After she sold the company, she made so much money, Kate could retreat. Kate really removed herself from society, from New York, from the fashion world, and she really just focused, I think, on being a mom,” he told EXTRA in an interview on Wednesday, adding that despite invitations to lavish events like the Met Gala, she chose not to attend. “Kate was really isolated and lonely. Toward the end of her life, she had a housekeeper, she had her assistant, and her child, and I think that was pretty much it. Kate didn’t have many friends.” (Though sources tell PEOPLE she was very involved at her daughter’s school, and maintained close friendships.)

5th Anniversary of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, New York, America - 17 Nov 2008
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That 10-year hiatus, Spade told PEOPLE in 2016, was in fact so she could focus on her family.

“I needed a break and I really wanted to raise my daughter,” she said, in an interview at her Park Avenue apartment. “People asked me, ‘Don’t you miss it?’ I really didn’t. I mean, I loved what I was doing, but I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I might.”

Shuter says Spade and her husband Andy “didn’t spend a lot of time together” and that they may have been living apart. It was reported by The Blast that Andy was looking for an apartment before his wife’s death, and a source close to the designer also tells PEOPLE, “Kate and Andy were having relationship problems.”

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The designer, who launched her eponymous brand in 1993, was also having trouble navigating today’s fashion world , Shuter says. On top of being intimidated by social media, she didn’t feel included in the industry. “Kate was upset by the way the fashion community treated her,” he says. “They never really gave her much respect… the public loved her, but the critics didn’t, and it always hurt her.”

Shuter adds: “This was someone that really valued her private life and I don’t think Kate could live in the cruel world that we live in today.”

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

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