Judith Leiber (1921-2018)

This is to remember legendary handbag designer Judith Leiber who died yesterday at 97, just hours after her husband of 72 years, architect Gerson Leiber passed away at 97 too, both of natural causes. If handbags have become status symbols, cultural icons, and political markers of power and taste, then Judith Leiber has a great role in attaining them with this charisma. Her over-the-top, colorful, playful bags have come to revolutionized handbag craftsmanship, and can be seen in any New York stylish party, as her bags have always had a strong New York identity, worn by such First Ladies Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, and Mamie Eisenhouwer. I remember that glorious fall day three years ago, when I took my class to her Amagansett home and mini museum, which were designed by her husband. Meeting the 93-year old designer in person was a treat. She showed us her private collection of bags, ranging from the earliest black patent evening purse, which she created fifty years ago, to the peacock jeweled piece of 2004, the last one she designed before retiring from the company she started. While living in Hungary, she was the first woman to join the local handbag-makers, but escaping her homeland during WWII, she settled in the US, and first worked for other companies before founding her own in 1963. Her signature style, miniature handbags covered in colorful and natural crystals has become particularly popular when they shined memorable and glamorous episodes of Sex and the City. Lets remember Judith Leiber today. 

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