Handbag designer Judith Leiber dies at 97, just hours apart from her husband


Judith Leiber, the celebrity handbag designer known worldwide for her bejewelled and quirky designs, dies at 97 in the comforts of her East Hampton home in New York. Her husband, Gerson Leiber, an American modernist painter, also died this weekend just hours before his beloved wife. The lovely couple was married for 72 years.

Judith, who has definitely left an impression with her fabergé of handbag designs, was lost in consequence of a heart attack, as did her husband.

The famous artisan was favored by the fashionables, for her whimsical designs often took on weird and wonderful shapes (a bunch of asparaguses, a watermelon or even a Hello Kitty head). Leiber also famously presented First Ladies Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton with bags in the form of their First Pets, Millie and Socks, etc.

The mini-handbags which were made in the USA, for the most part, were carefully handcrafted with jewels and crystals. The Holocaust survivor had a different career goal for herself, but destiny had made her future plans. We thank the Gods for the twist in her professional path, or else the world would still be void of the raw art that the talented designer has given us.

Leiber worked with different accessory brands for 16 years of her life. Able to make a handbag by herself from start to finish, she formed the Judith Leiber label in 1963 with her husband. She is best remembered for the beaded minaudières—Fabergés for the fashionable elite—which she introduced in 1967. Leiber was the first handbag designer to win a Coty Award and was the recipient of the CFDA’s Lifetime Achievement Prize in 1993. She's also won many other bestowals like a Neiman Marcus award, and in 1986, she won the Spirit of Achievement Award.

Leiber once told Vogue, "You have to have a sense of humor. I like to do things that look crazy yet are practical...My mania is to do a bag that looks as good empty as it does stuffed."

Well, Leiber’s bags are small handcrafted works of art, which hold sway in a wardrobe and also, in many museums. Prized treasures created by an unforgettable talent, her absence will always be felt.