Fashion designer Kate Spade has been found dead in her New York apartment in an apparent suicide, police have said.

The 55-year-old was said to have been found by a housekeeper inside the apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan's Upper East Side at about 10.20am local time (3.30pm in the UK).

She was found hanged and left a note, CBS New York reported, citing unnamed sources.

Image: Kate Spade designs featured at New York Fashion Week earlier in 2018

The New York Police Department confirmed her death under her birth name, Katherine Noel Brosnahan.

One of the biggest names in US fashion, Spade was best known for her handbag range created in the early 1990s.

She was a former accessories editor at the now closed Mademoiselle magazine before turning her hand to fashion design.

Kate Spade New York, the label she co-founded and later sold, has more than 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the US and more than 175 other stores across the world.

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It began by selling handbags before expanding to include clothing, jewellery, bedding and fragrances.

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