Fashion & Beauty

Judith Leiber Is Gone, But the Glitter Remains

LATE LAST MONTH the fashion world lost haute-accessory designer Judith Leiber, she of the glittery little evening bags toted by First Ladies, socialites and women who don’t faint when paying $4,000 for an evening accessory. The bags are mostly minaudières, small hard-shell clutches meant to hold little more than a lipstick—often not even a cellphone with which to summon your driver at the end of the gala (or your reading glasses so you can see the screen!).

Leiber took minaudières way over the top, turning them into crystal-encrusted objets d’art, and whimsical art objects at that: glittery curled-up kitties, plump pink pigs, bashful penguins, a perky monkey, a full-blown rose, a cupcake—and a whole raft of crystal-encrusted boxes, round, square and rectangular.

Minaudières have been around since the 1930s, we learn from Wikipedia, when Charles Arpels (yes, of Van Cleef & Arpels) got the idea of a metal reticule that would carry a fashionable woman’s nécéssaires as well as serve as another piece of jewelry for an evening outfit.

Even with Leiber gone, at age 97, her brand lives on (she and artist husband Gerson Leiber sold it to investors some years back). Even better, there are minaudières at much gentler prices, almost as glittery and obviously inspired by Leiber’s stunners. No French bulldogs or cupcakes, but lots of gleam and glitter to light up the night.
—Nancy McKeon

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