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How Judith Leiber Has Evolved From Classic To Contemporary

If you love designer handbags, then you must have heard of Judith Leiber. One of the most iconic handbag designers of the century, this powerhouse of a woman has created some of the most beautiful couture clutches ever made. That being said, she didn’t have the easiest of starts in life. 

Read on to find out the complete history of Judith Leiber and how the brand has evolved from classic to contemporary over the years. 

Judith Leiber: The Early Days

Judith Leiber grew up in Budapest, Hungary and became the first woman to become an apprentice and then master in the Hungarian handbag guild

Having survived World War II and met and married her husband Gerson Leiber, Leiber moved to the United States where she began working as a pattern maker and then later a foreman at a handbag company

In 1963, she finally started her own handbag company, which started as a small enterprise but soon grew to a factory where she produced her own designs. 

It wasn’t until 1967 that Judith Leiber designed her first metal bag. However, this first creation was stained on the back, which led Leiber to take the initiative to cover the stain with rhinestones. A move that would come to cement her brand in the world of handbag design and see her designs feature on the red carpet and catwalks all over the world.   

Judith Leiber: The Classics 

Although you cannot buy one of her original calfskin bags from the past, there is still a huge range of classic styles available at Judith Leiber. Most notably, the Soho Emerald Snakeskin clutch was designed to pay homage to the first Judith Leiber handbag collection. 

Leiber took inspiration from many sources to create her range of classic handbag styles, including antique shops, Japanese boxes, and famous artists from different eras throughout time. 

The elegant and timeless Envelope clutch remains today one of the most popular classic couture handbag styles. However, it has evolved from a much more understated design to include velvet styles and metal hardware covered in handset crystals. 

Other best-selling classic styles include the Slim Side Clutch, which is available in a wide array of vibrant colors and with various embellishments, and the Rectangle Clutch, which is both practical and stylish. 

Judith Leiber: The Queen of Quirk 

As the years have passed, Judith Leiber purses have become increasingly quirky in their design, with fun and frivolity being top of the agenda. Although you can still find many classic styles, the latest Judith Leiber collections are awash with bold, beautiful, and daring designs that demand to be seen. 

Who could forget the French Fries clutch that Kim Kardashian rocked with her hot pink super-mini dress? A couture creation that looked good enough to eat, this was one of the most talked about designer bags of 2018. 

Or how about the Mushroom clutch that was created in collaboration with singer Katy Perry to showcase her love of this humble vegetable and to celebrate the official icon of her “Play” concert? 

Talking of collaborations, the selection of Judith Leiber Hello Kitty purses flew off the shelves, with this famous Japanese icon proving to be the perfect match for the quirky Judith Leiber brand.

Most recently, Leiber teamed up with Sexy Fish London, a renowned Mayfair restaurant, to create a limited-edition installation to celebrate the brand’s 60th anniversary. The restaurant displayed three large bejeweled fish minaudières including the “Bubbles” and “Koi Fish” which were hung above the DJ booth. 

Judith Leiber: Standing the Test of Time 

Today, you can find Judith Leiber bags in museums all over the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Historical Society in Chicago, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. 

Judith Leiber handbags have also made an appearance in several exhibitions over the years, including the recent “Crown to Couture” exhibition at Kensington Palace in London and the “First Ladies of New York and the Nation” exhibition in New York. 

Judith Leiber: Award-Winning Handbag Designer 

Judith Leiber has been widely recognized in the world of fashion and design and has received many awards and accolades over the years. 

After a mere 6 years in the industry, Leiber received the Swarovski Great Designer Award for the artistic use of the company’s rhinestones. Then, in 1973, she became the first handbag designer to win the Coty American Fashion Critics Award. 

Fast forward to 1980 and she accepted the Neiman Marcus Winged Statue for Excellence in Design and then, in 1991, the Silver Slipper Award from the Costume Institute of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. 

However, her most prestigious award had to have been the Lifetime Achievement Award that she received from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1994. To accept the award, Leiber wore a stunning blue evening gown and an item of custom Judith Leiber jewelry which was inspired by one of her minaudières.   

The Latest Judith Leiber Collection 

If you are thinking of investing in a Judith Leiber clutch, then you need to check out the brand’s latest collection. With a mixture of traditional and contemporary styles on offer, there is something to delight every fashionista. 

Whether you want a designer purse that looks good enough to eat, want to channel your inner spirit animal, or simply want a classic clutch that will transcend all trends, you won’t find a more eclectic and unique selection of designer handbags anywhere else! 

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