Judith Leiber carved a unique place for herself in the world of fashion as the designer of some of the most inventive and sought-after handbags in the world. Leiber became the first woman member of the Hungarian Handbag Guild before fleeing the Nazi occupation with her family. In America, she worked for various handbag manufacturers before starting her own company in 1963. She is most famous for her whimsical crystal minaudières, metal shells encrusted with beads to form shapes such as slices of watermelon or animals, which have been called modern Fabergés, and which can cost up to $7,500. Almost every first lady since Mamie Eisenhower has owned at least one, and in 2005, they were featured in an exhibit on the fashion of the first ladies. Her handbags are in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, among others. In 2008, one of her minaudières was featured in the Sex and the City movie. While Lieber sold her firm in 1993 and retired in 1998, the company has continued to thrive and create new fashions.
Leiber passed away on April 28, 2018, at the age of 97.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Judith Leiber." (Viewed on July 23, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/leiber-judith>.