Have you ever seen a bag that you really love but you know deep down that it will never fit your lifestyle and that you will probably never own one, no matter how much you admire it? I have, and despite being downright impractical, I covet Judith Leiber’s crystal minaudières. While I fully acknowledge that these novelty bags aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I choose to see them as mini pieces of art. I naturally gravitate towards intricate details, and the Leiber aesthetic definitely falls in line with my love of all things ornate. Each piece is a handcrafted labor of love, and every single bag is meticulously created. The playful, kitschy designs combined with endless sparkles draw me in, and they manage to capture the best of my inner child. Playful, yet oddly sophisticated, there is no denying that the iconic designs are some of the most eccentric on the market. No other brand can do quirky quite like Judith Leiber, and they’re pretty much a niche of their own as far as I’m concerned.
I think what I love most about these bags is that after learning more about Judith Leiber and the origins of these little beauties, I discovered that the crystal bags were created from a bad batch of metal. Leiber was creating a bag made of metal, and the color of the metal she ordered didn’t align with her vision for the design, so quick thinking Leiber covered the undesirable material entirely with crystals. There lies the inception of the wildly successful crystal minaudière. Anyone who can create an empire from a bag design gone wrong is a true legend and I am in awe of the tenacity that Judith Leiber possessed, along with her impeccable eye for design. While many people would have thrown away the discolored metal, she was able to use her resources, design something fresh, and launch her career as a fashion icon—what an inspiration!
I consider Judith Leiber’s designs to co-exist in the worlds of art and fashion, and her bags are displayed in many of the world’s most prestigious art museums. In fact, Leiber’s designs first caught my eye on a visit to my favorite museum, the Museum of Handbags and Purses. The museum in Amsterdam houses some of Leiber’s most stunning designs and I have held a special place in my heart for the crystal minaudières ever since my visit to the museum. If you ever find yourself in Amsterdam, make sure to check out the museum—it truly is a treasure trove of beautiful handbags and also packs a history lesson in, housing many historical handbags in its collection.
If I ever win the lottery, a bag from Judith Leiber would sit at the top of my list as the first fun purchase I would make! Here are my favorites:
Judith Leiber Swirl Candy Clutch ($4,495
Judith Leiber Popsicle Box Clutch ($4,195)
Judith Leiber Hot Air Balloon Rainbow ($4,695)
Judith Leiber Schloss Castle Clutch Bag ($5,695)
Judith Leiber Gumball Machine Clutch ($4,995)
Judith Leiber Popcorn Matinee ($5,695)
Judith Leiber Call Me Brick Phone ($5,695)
Judith Leiber Peony Crystal Clutch ($4,495)