Spade was found hanged by a scarf she allegedly tied to a doorknob, an NYPD source said.
He said she "sounded happy" the night before and her death was a complete shock.
Shea wouldn't discuss what was in the note, but law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that, among other things, it contained a message to Spade's 13-year-old daughter, saying it was not her fault.
"We are all devastated by today's tragedy", her family said in a statement via the New York Daily News.
Bags at the Kate Spade store in Hong Kong, 2016. She was also a staple of NYC who spread good will. Before making the jump to designing, she was a senior fashion editor at the fashion magazine Mademoiselle.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America in a statement called Spade "a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories".
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Giuliani called The Wall Street Journal afterward to say he only knew what had been in news reports. "I hope to see them one day". He said the North Korean nuclear issue should have been handled by previous U.S. administrations, adding: "I'll take care of it".
Bette Midler: "Kate Spade, whose lively, colourful, and yes, joyous designs has died".
'My heart and prayers go out to Kate Spade and her family.
When I first discovered fashion, Kate Spade was queen of it.
Spade told National Public Radio a year ago that she first discussed starting a handbag company with Andy Spade while they ate at a Mexican restaurant in 1991.
Rosie O'Donnell tweeted support to Spade's brother-in-law, David Spade, with the tweet "all my love to you Dave". "She had a quirky visual language that captivated Bat Mitzvah girls and artists alike", wrote actress Lena Dunham on Twitter.
The body was found not long after 10 a.m., police said.
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Born Katherine Brosnahan, Spade grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kate and Frances Spade in an undated photo for Mother's Day. On social media, many are sharing pictures and memories of their favourite Kate Spade pieces - the most popular word being used?
Spade was not only about bags: she would expand into shoes, apparel, luggage and other accessories, and stationery. My deepest sympathy to her family and friends, and her many fans around the world, who loved the wonderful illusions she created.
File - In this photo, designer Kate Spade poses with handbags and shoes from her next collection in NY on May 13, 2004. Spade moved on to launch a new luxury brand, Frances Valentine.
I first got my hands on one of the brand's signature nylon bags in middle school (after much begging, I'm sure) and more than 15 years later, it still sits on a shelf in my mom's dressing room. CFDA recognition is considered one of the highest achievements in the industry. "You never saw them out being contentious or not being there for one another". Gupta, 29, said that there is a need to look at people harder with "compassion and kindness".
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Despite the outcome, the couple said it doesn't consider the case "a lost cause". "I don't discriminate against anybody", he said. She teaches a gay legal issues course at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and has followed the Colorado baker case.