Yesterday we were off to zee Hamptons to visit a virtually undiscovered, little-known gem of a place called the Leiber Collection. I read about it in the Hampton rag, "Dan's Papers," and with some trepidation, because it involved me driving outside my North Fork comfort zone, we ferried across the Peconic to Sag Harbor and drove southeastward to East Hampton.
The Leiber Collection is a museum and garden dedicated to the handbags of Judith Leiber who you will know as the designer of fabulous, jewel-encrusted, fancifully shaped evening bags called minaudieres which you have probably seen in Bergdorf's affixed with astronomical price tags. A Leiber handbag is simply de rigueur if you are attending a Met gala or if you happen to be a first lady of the United States hosting a state dinner.
A Chinese Foo Dog with
Multicolored Crystal Rhinestones &
A Watermelon-Shaped Minaudiere
with Crystal Rhinestones & Onyx Details
"Minaudiere" is a fashion term
that should be in everyone's vocabulary.
After lunch at Sam's Italian Restaurant, which we had chosen for its pizza (and the pizza oven was not working) so we had lobster, poor us, I drove onward to find the 446 Old Stone Highway, home of the
The museum was built on the Leiber property in East Hampton. It's an elegant building, a kind of handbag mausoleum, as my sister, Jeanne, aptly put it, in a garden setting. Judith Leiber and her artist husband, Gerson Leiber, have made the Hamptons their summer home for many years.
Art-deco designs and a bag inspired
by a Mondrian painting.
The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding
of Judith Leiber handbags.
Judith Leiber is from Budapest, Hungary. As a young woman, she was accepted at Kings College in London and was slated to study chemistry so that she might work in the family's cosmetic company. However World War II intervened.
Instead she remained in Hungary and
apprenticed to a handbag maker.
She became a master craftsman and
learned to construct a bag from top to bottom and
and from inside to out.
When the war was over, Judith met a young American soldier
who was stationed in Hungary. His name was Gerson Leiber.
They married in 1946.
They moved to New York City where Judith worked for several handbag manufacturers. In 1963, they formed their own company with headquarters in a loft at 33rd and Madison. Gerson said,
"You've spent enough time working for schnooks. Now your name and only your name will be on the handbags that you design." Judith Leiber's Artful Handbags by Jeffrey Sussman.
The pleated bag with a semi-precious brooch is a favorite motif.
The bags are beautifully displayed.
The above-two patchwork bags supply me
with inspiration for my hats. Sequins, anyone?
Art Deco is an influence in the Semi-Precious stone lock.
Judith Leiber belts on display.
The second-floor gallery in the museum.
These catalogs qre free at the exhibit. They contain several excellent
essays about Judith Leiber: her life, her art, her influences.
The show continues through September.
But be sure to call or check here
before you go.
Alas, our days in Orient are
We will be returning to NYC on Saturday.
It's bittersweet to leave here,
But I have exciting plans for the
fall, bien sûr!