Couture handbag designer Judith Leiber is best known for her signature crystal clutches and miniaudières, often in whimsical animal or fruit shapes. Each piece is a work of art. Literally. There are Judith Leiber pieces in The Smithsonian! We went behind the scenes with the brand to learn more about what’s new in 2011, why you need a little Fizzy in your life, and how your Smartphone plays into their designs.
What inspired your latest collection?
Judith Leiber Wedding, a collection of miniaudières and clutches, was inspired by the desire to capture the fantasy of that special day. The collection, which features not one, but two stunning wedding cakes, as well as lace- and flower- adorned satin clutches, also makes a nod at the tradition of “something blue” by incorporating a lining in the timeless shade of blue in all the bags.
What new concepts or materials did you introduce in the collections?
While we are an iconic brand and have a solid brand DNA, we are constantly working to move the brand forward. Recently, we have incorporated larger crystals, mother-of-pearl and pearls on our minaudieres. One of our popular styles, currently featured on Rent the Runway, is a patterned embossed leather clutch that resembles a metallic finish. We also went back to our heritage with the return of beautifully treated exotic skin bags. Last but not least, we are always thinking about the functionality of our bags and strive to develop bags that keep in mind the demands of the customer. A modern woman will not leave her home without a Blackberry or iPhone and our Design Team takes that into great consideration during the initial stages of design.
What is the process used to create these magnificent pieces?
The crystal miniaudières are truly a labor of love. Each piece is handcrafted by several artisans. First each minaudier is plated and hand-painted to reflect the final color or pattern. Lastly, an expert artisan applies each crystal by hand. Each novelty minaudier, such as the Wedding Cake can take up to 50 hours to complete from start to finish.
Which part of the design process do you like the best?
For us, a company that is 47 years old and has such a strong heritage it is still so exciting every season to see the new collection. When all the bags are displayed for the first time it never ceases to amaze us. It is truly incredible.
How is the Judith Leiber brand growing in 2011?
We are excited to start 2011! As Mary Gleason, Brand President explains “Our new direction has a modern appeal with a nod to Judith Leiber’s extraordinary legacy.” We are launching several new categories this month, including Judith Leiber Wedding, Judith Leiber fashion jewelry, and Judith Leiber Night, our new fragrance - the finishing touch.
If a girl was going to purchase her first Judith Leiber piece, what would you want it to be?
A Judith Leiber purchase tends to stem from emotion. One of our favorites - the red Heart miniaudièr evokes the romance every young woman desires to have. We also love our new Fizzy clutch, which is the “little sister” to the best-selling Ritz Fizz. This petite, timeless clutch, complete with a cross-body chain, embodies the youthful energy of a night out on the town.