AUCTION FEATURES MORE THAN 500 UNIQUE PIECES FROM AMERICA’S LEGENDARY DESIGNER
By Barbara Conn
PIONEER, ARTIST, BUSINESSWOMAN. All aptly describe Judith Leiber, the Hungarian-born American handbag designer who trained in Budapest and went on to become a master craftswoman who forever changed the luxury landscape.
It was rare in 1963 for a woman to launch her own business, more so to achieve immediate success and dominate the accessory marketplace for decades. Leiber’s designs have been recognized with virtually every prestigious fashion industry award, and her creations have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Chicago Historical Society, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“The Leiber bags are really a work of art rather than just an accessory,” Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the research and consulting firm Luxury Institute, told Reuters in 2007.
“Judith Leiber evening bags, called minaudieres, are among the most identifiable examples of design in the world,” adds Diane D’Amato, director of luxury accessories at Heritage Auctions. “Her handbags have adorned the arms of every first lady since Mamie Eisenhower, are seen on red carpets from Cannes to Hollywood, and collected by devotees around the globe.”
Leiber (b.1921) has said she designed more than 3,000 patterns during her career. Her elegant and whimsical creations began as a result of receiving a shipment of tarnished metal bags from Italy. Rather than waiting for another shipment, Judith adorned the bags with crystals, adding semi-precious stones and seashells in later years. She also became known for using exotic skins and silks on her frame bags, made distinct with clasps bejeweled with semiprecious stones.
Leiber sold her company in 1993 and retired in 1998 to travel the world with her husband.
The Art of Judith Leiber Auction, comprised of more than 500 Leiber bags, is scheduled for Oct. 9, 2015, with previews in New York and Beverly Hills.
“This collection goes well beyond curated examples of beauty and artistry,” says Heritage Auctions’ Managing Director Kathleen Guzman. “It represents the very building blocks that made Judith Leiber a global treasure.”