Handbag designer Judith Leiber dies hours after artist husband

Beloved handbag designer Judith Leiber has died, aged 97, just hours after her husband. She died on Saturday (28Apr18) at her home in Springs, New York as she mourned the passing of her partner, painter Gerson Leiber. Both died of natural causes, acc…

Beloved handbag designer Judith Leiber has died, aged 97, just hours after her husband.

She died on Saturday (28Apr18) at her home in Springs, New York as she mourned the passing of her partner, painter Gerson Leiber.

Both died of natural causes, according to reports.

Born Judith Peto in Budapest, Hungary, she became the queen of the clutch, with stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Greta Garbo among her fans, and more recently Blake Lively, who showcased a quirky fish-style bag at The Age of Adeline premiere in 2015. She also famously gifted each U.S. First Lady one of her minaudieres.

She studied chemistry in London but returned to Budapest to apprentice as a handbag maker and while selling her wares to members of the armed forces, she met her husband, a member of the U.S. Signal Corps. The Leibers wed in 1946 and moved to New York, where Judith worked for several handbag manufacturers.

Her career as a designer took off in 1953 after she created a pink rhinestone bag for Mamie Eisenhower to carry to her husband’s presidential inauguration, but it took her 10 years to build up the courage to go it alone and start her own company.

Her most famous pieces featured images of birds, cats, lions, rabbits, and dogs, and she often worked with ostrich, alligator, and frogskin.

In 2009, she launched a museum for her handbags in East Hampton, while her designs are also on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Dallas Museum, the Museum of the City of New York and the Smithsonian.

Her contemporary fans have also included Dame Helen Mirren, Jennifer Lawrence, Miley Cyrus, and Amy Adams, who have all clutched one of the designer’s creations on the red carpet in recent years.

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