Speed Reads


Handbag designer Judith Leiber dies at 97

Renowned handbag designer Judith Leiber, known for her crystal-encrusted designs, died over the weekend in Springs, New York. She was 97.

Born in Budapest, Leiber studied chemistry at King's College London with the goal of working in the cosmetics field, but returned to Hungary and became the first female apprentice at the handbag maker Pessl. Leiber went on to also become the first woman master craftsman at the company and the first woman to join the craft's guild in Budapest. A Holocaust survivor, she married her husband, abstract painter Gerson Leiber, in 1946. He also died over the weekend, just hours before his wife.

Leiber started her own label in 1963, with celebrities often carrying her pieces on the red carpet. Her dazzling bags took weeks to make and thousands of crystals, which she arranged in such whimsical shapes as watermelon and asparagus and Hello Kitty. "I like to do things that look crazy yet are practical," Leiber told Vogue. "My mania is to do a bag that looks as good empty as it does stuffed." In 1993, Leiber received the CFDA's Lifetime Achievement Prize and was the first handbag designer to win a Coty Award.