PHYLLIS ODESSEY

from cupcakes to snakes

I have no desire to own a Judith Leiber handbag, which is a good thing, since these evening bags are totally out of my price range. Status symbol aside, I do appreciate the artistry and craft of  Leiber’s creations.

Last night was the opening of  Judith Leiber:  Crafting a New York Story at Museum of Arts and Design. In attendance were Judith Leiber and her husband, Gerson Leiber. They sat on stools, looking very spry for their 96 years and over 70 years of marriage.  Both were born in 1921.

One incredible fact:  Leiber founded her company in 1963 at the age of forty-two and designed her last handbag in 2004.  During this time she designed over 3,000 handbags.

A minor aspect of the the show were the handbags Leiber designed for several first ladies.  Accompanying the photographs of Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Hilary Clinton were the thank you letters from each of the first ladies,and in one case the letter from one of the Presidents.  Surprisingly, the most affectionate and personal note was the handwritten letter from Ronald Reagan.

The handbag pictured above was a collaboration with visual artist Faith Ringgold (1930 –    ) based on a series of quilts Ringgold designed.  Ringgold was in attendance last night.

“Some of the stuff being made these days is horrible.  There are very few bags that really look good.  People go to the Metropolitan Opera in jeans with a fancy top, fancy blouse, and high heels.  And they wear these enormous bags that really don’t fit. Years ago at the Metropolitan Opera, we only counted the bags that weren’t ours.  Today you see one or two pieces that are ours, very few.  Things have changed a lot.”  Judith Leiber, 

Yes! they have… thank goodness.

 

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