Judith Leiber, the designer of the world’s most instantly recognizable evening bags, has passed away. Leiber died just hours after her husband Gerson passed away in their East Hampton home. They were both 97.
Judith Leiber’s bejeweled minaudieres have been bringing smiles to women’s faces for decades. From colorful birds and animals to junk food and everything in between, Judith Leiber bags were a red carpet staple, adding a touch of whimsical elegance to any situation. Most interesting, is that the bags managed to keep their core customer while still wooing the next generation.
Leiber, who has contributed significantly to the accessories industry, received an ACE Hall of Fame award back in 2001. The company continues to contribute to the event today, all all ACE recipients receive a small Judith Leiber minaudiere.
“If you look at the story of what Judith Leiber has accomplished, it’s really quite remarkable, despite the odds,” says Karen Giberson, President of the Accessories Council, which produces the ACE Awards. “She created an art form in the luxury space and the company owns the niche. Worldwide, there are very few American brands that have withstood the test of time like Judith Leiber.”
Judith and Gerson were married for 72 years. “It is quite a love story,” adds Giberson.
The scope of the couple’s work was so great that in 2005, the Leibers built The Leiber Collection, a gallery in the Hamptons to house their works of art and to chronicle their careers. In addition, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), held a retrospective exhibit last year.
MAD’s Judith Leiber: Crafting a New York Story told the tale of this illustrious craftswoman, designer and businesswoman. The exhibition featured handbags encompassing the history of her eponymous company, which Leiber founded in 1963 (at age 42!) through 2004, when she designed her last handbag.
All in all, Judith Leiber spent 65 years in the handbag industry, from an apprentice in Budapest to owning an internationally renowned handbag company based in New York City.
The industry will miss her.