Bella Cariaga’s Facebook photos tell a story about her life working for Kate Spade over the past couple of years and include her time spent with Spade’s daughter, Frances Beatrix “Bea” Spade.
In an interview a day after Spade’s death by suicide, Cariaga’s son Mark Roldan said his devastated mother described the handbag fashion icon as her “best friend.”
And by all accounts, it appears Spade had a special place in her heart for the woman who helped keep her homes and cook for her family.
Here’s what you need to know about Kate Spade and Bella Cariaga:
1. In Kate Spade’s New Line, ‘Frances Valentine,’ She Included a Shoe Named For Cariaga, The ‘Bella’
Reports that Cariaga and Spade were close friends has at least some evidence to back it up. As Cariaga said in Facebook posts in 2016 and 2017, “When you get your own shoe line.”
The shoe line called “Bella” is described on the Frances Valentine website as being crafted in Italy “from Italian cuoio leather” with the brands’ “signature Frances Valentine” jeweled heel. Not surprisingly, the shoe that originally retailed for around $400 is sold out everywhere. Spade also named a shoe for her daughter, the Beatrix. And the fashion house she launched in 2016 is also named for her daughter.
Cariaga was so proud she posted several images on her social media and a photo of the day her Frances Valentine package arrived from Spade in 2016.
2. Cariaga, Who Said She Beat Cancer While Working For Spade, Shared Photos of a Walk With Spade’s Daughter Bea in Central Park
In 2006 Kate Spade sold the brand she and her husband launched in 1993 to Coach so she could focus on raising her daughter, Bea, now 13. In her suicide note it’s reported, Spade wrote, “Bea – I have always loved you. This is not your fault. Ask Daddy!”
However, her husband Andy Spade denied there was a note: “I have yet to see any note left behind and am appalled that a private message to my daughter has been so heartlessly shared with the media.”
Cariaga shared images of a walk with Bea in Central Park but respectfully protecting the girl’s privacy by not featuring her in photos, save one.
During this time, Cariaga posted she’d won her war against cancer. She does not elaborate or share any more detail than to say ‘Thank God, I’m cancer free. I beat cancer! Let’s celebrate!
3. Cariaga Spent Time With Spade at Her Napa Valley Home & Shared Numerous Photos of Her Life Working For Spade at Homes in New York & California
Originally from the Philippines, Cariaga appears to have traveled with Spade and stayed at homes outside Spade’s Manhattan apartment. In particular, she seemed to love being with Spade at her home in the Napa Valley of California. She shares photos of family and friends and dining out out in tony restaurants, and taking wine tours. And working, too.
She was proud of the table she set at Spade’s Napa Valley home in August of 2017.
4.’Kate Asked Me To Bake Cake Today,’ Cariaga Wrote & Posted Photos of Her Cakes For Spade & Her Family
Surely now heartbreaking for Cariaga, she’s shared with her small group of family and friends social media posts of flower arrangements she made for Spade, a hat the designer gave her, meals she’s prepared, tables she’s set, and poignantly, when “Kate asked me to bake cake today.”
5. Cariaga’s Son Said His Mother Was Traumatized After Finding Spade Dead
Cariaga’s son Mark Roldan, 23, said his mother was “shaken” after the trauma of finding Spade, who’d hanged herself from a doorknob with a red scarf. He said she considered Spade her “best friend,” according to the New York Post.
Cariaga found Spade ‘unconscious and unresponsive’ in her Park Avenue apartment and went for help. The Daily Mail first reported the building superintendent cut the scarf from Spade’s neck and attempted to perform CPR but sadly, Spade had died. An updated story provided more detail including that Cariaga “tried desperately to save Kate’s life.” The Mail reported police sources said that Cariaga “first called 911 and then summoned a male worker in the building to come help.”
Spade and Cariaga were close enough friends that Cariaga’s family was invited to Spade’s homes, the designer named a shoe line after her, they traveled together and she entrusted her daughter Bea to Cariaga’s care.
Spade’s family said it was “devastated” by her death.
“We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly,” a statement read. “We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”
Spade is survived by her daughter and husband, brother of actor David Spade. Andy Spade said in a statement that “My main concern is Bea and protecting her privacy as she deals with the unimaginable grief of losing her mother. Kate loved Bea so very much.”