Fashion industry icon Anna Wintour remembers the late Kate Spade

Fashion queen Anna Wintour on Tuesday paid tribute to Kate Spade, who passed away earlier in the day in a suspected suicide.

The editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast released a lengthy statement, praising the late fashion designer's understanding, charm and humor.

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“Kate Spade had an enviable gift for understanding exactly what women the world over wanted to carry. She launched her label at a time when everyone thought that the definition of a handbag was strictly European, all decades-old serious status and wealth," Wintour said. "Then along came this thoroughly American young woman who changed everything. There was a moment when you couldn’t walk a block in New York without seeing one of her bags, which were just like her; colorful and unpretentious."

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Spade, 55, was found dead Tuesday morning in her Manhattan apartment by one of her employees, shocking a Hollywood that had so quickly embraced her, and the fashion world, which she helped shape. Tributes have poured in from the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham, Kenneth Cole, Kristin Davis and even Chelsea Clinton.

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But none have the institutional authority of Wintour, whose word has come to define what "fashion" really is.

"Kate designed with great charm and humor, and built a global empire that reflected exactly who she was and how she lived," Wintour continued in her tribute. "Long before we talked about ‘authenticity’, she defined it."