The ultimate evening bag

The Emmys are fast approaching and one of my friends’ and my favorite things to do is watch the red carpet fashions. But, while everyone else ooohs and aaahs over the Badgley Mischka gowns or Harry Winston jewels, I am invariably drawn to the handbags.

My all-time favorites are the Judith Leiber bags. These tiny, sculpted treasures (some as small as 3 ½ inches across.)  Impractical for carrying anything but a lipstick and maybe one key, but oh so beautiful!

According to www.JudithLeiber.com, “Judith Leiber, the founder of the company, was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, where she studied the craft of handbag making during World War II. In 1947 Mrs. Leiber and her husband Gerson Leiber immigrated to the U.S. and after many years working for leading New York handbag manufacturers, Mrs. Leiber launched the Judith Leiber Company in 1963, with the support of her artistic husband.”

From the beginning, Leiber’s witty designs set her apart from other designers. Today, her designs depict anything from crystal-encrusted apples, to adorable Scottie dogs, to fabulous florals, geometrics … the diversity is astounding and the possibilities are endless!

Crafted of satin Austrian crystals and semi-precious stones, the sought-after handbags are some of the only luxe items still made entirely by hand. Each bag is a testament to their firm’s meticulous attention to detail – from individually inset crystals to tuck away chains. The bags even arrive beautifully boxed in a signature protective bag.

Judith Leiber handbags are truly works of art. In fact, the James A. Michener Museum hosted an exhibit which showcased 160 spectacular pieces. And according to official company literature, the handbags are also are part of the permanent design collections at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, The Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Los Angeles Museum of Art.

Iconic celebrities from every walk of life have carried Leiber designs. First Ladies Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush have all carried a Leiber bag to the Presidential Inauguration. And of course, Hollywood is certainly not immune to the lure of Judith Leiber designs. A-list celebs like Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and Mischa Barton are Leiber aficionados. Most recently, Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) was recently spotted carrying a fabulous Leiber creation on the red carpet at the Oscars.

Although, Judith Leiber retired from hand-on designing in 1998, the firm she founded, Judith Leiber Inc. carries on her vision with new designs. Leiber bags are available at Judith Leiber boutiques in New York, The Forum Shops in Las Vegas, South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California. They are also available nationwide at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.

Unfortunately at prices tags starting at about $2,500 and ranging (quickly) upward, I think I will have to be satisfied with a copy of “The Artful Handbag” written by Enid Nemy, and filled with fabulous photography of John Bigelow Taylor.  Like her beautiful bags, this book is definitely eye candy.

A girl’s gotta dream!

Susan McNeill is a wife, mother, author, entrepreneur and social activist. In addition to Susan Said What?! Susan also writes for Style on a WHIM, It’s how you play the game!, and Success Won’t Wait!


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