Judith Leiber handbags can be considered the crown jewel of purses - they are flawless diamonds against a sea of Cubic zirconium. Her bags are world famous and have been carried by First Ladies since Nancy Reagan, specially designed to match inaugural outfits with a copy going to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Leiber had a great beginning in life by being born to an upper middle class Jewish family of Jewelers in Budapest in 1921. She studied chemistry at King's College in Cambridge but was cut off from school when she went to visit her family in Budapest and could not return due to the advent of World War II.
Her family was able to escape the horrors of the concentration camps during Nazi occupation and Ms. Leiber came to the United States in 1946. In Budapest, she was the first female member of the Hungarian Handbag Guild and she worked in the handbag industry in this country.
She and her husband Gus decided to strike out on their own in 1963. Her bags were made of exotic karung snake, alligator, whip snake, and calf skins and intended for day wear. Her minaudiere bags became her most famous and are beautiful small evening bags made in the shape of dogs, bears, flowers, and just about everything else you can imagine. There are even Leiber collectible bags made in the form of Socks, the Clinton's pet cat, and Millie, the Bush's dog.
These exquisite evening bags came into being by accident. A metal frame arrived from Italy and was deeply tarnished. There was no time to send the frame back so Ms. Leiber fastened on thousands of tiny crystals to cover the blemishes.