Crystallised: Judith Leiber Handbags
The success of Excess
Judith Leiber- She make the world's glitziest evening bags! She created her earliest handbags from the cord binding found beneath old chairs in her mother's living room in pre-war Budapest.
Forced to improvise during the nazi occupation, young Judith Leiber honed her skills in hard times. And YES, that owl on the left is a bag! Believe it or not..
"The evening bag you choose makes a statement, but there's nothing more telling about your personality than a peek at the goods inside."
-Christine Lennon, Harper's Bazaar
- Judith Leiber's two word design philosophy
Judith Leiber's early bags were feminine and sleek, and have an infusion of modernist art: a little white lunch box studded with nail heads, a brown box bag with a dainty watch in the shape of a crescent moon. All of her bags displayed the hallmarks of long hours spent in European museums and her early gold training.
Accomplished but eclectic, Leiber found her hallmark "look" by accident. Although she set out to design a round- bottomed, solid metallic evening bag in the shape of a medieval coin purse, her first prototype came back imperfect!
To cover a patch of botched gold plating, leiber scattered rhinestones across the bag's base. The result was the first Judith Leiber metal bag!
The growth of her brand
Influenced by the love of everything exotic, Leiber built a menagerie of bag shapes, each one with it's own technical complications. There evolved collections of animals, flowers, and box bags, each one more complex than the other. Each one was hand- studded with up to 7,000 individual Swarovski crystals. Holding a crystal-coated piglet, with black onyx nostrils in one hand, the designer smiles and declares "I have made crazy bags, some not that crazy, some medium crazy. You have to have some that are kid of kooky."
Leiber's sculpted polar bears and encrusted money bags became 80's icons. The gap between decorative art objects and fashion accessories was slowly getting bridged. The minaudiÃ¨re reestablished the expensive statement bag in American fashion and made place for luxury with humor.
Twenty years later, the minaudiÃ¨re has enjoyed massive revival since the millennium. Judith Leiber's belief that a lady only needs to carry a lipstick, a handkerchief, and a hundred-dollar bill is expressed in her jewel-like bags that serve as an antidote to the schlep, an abnegation of responsibility at it's most glamorous.
Certain socialites in Texas line up their Leiber bags as center-pieces for gala dinner parties!!
Some of her best crystal bags - Check out these absolutely gorgeous bags by Judith LeiberClick thumbnail to view full-size
More bagsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Judith Leiber show in Bangkok, Thailand
Tell me what you think
Judith Leiber is best known for her signature crystal covered minaudieres, small ornamental cases, often in the shapes of animals or fruits. Her purses are so great that some pieces are even included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian!
Do you think Judith Leiber handbags are worth the price?
Judith Leiber: The Artful Handbag - An amazing book you MUST check out
Here, in a lively, anecdotal text by Enid Nemy, a feature writer for the New York Times, is the personal story of Judith Leiber--'The Bag Lady from Budapest'--spanning her roots in pre-World War II Hungary, where she was the first woman accepted into the handbag Guild, through her emigration to the United States, where, after several stints working for other handbag manufacturers, she opened her own business in 1963. Some 192 full-color photographs reveal the dazzling array of bags in all their exquisite detail.
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