She marks 30 years as a bag lady

December 19, 1990|By Chicago Tribune

Judith Leiber, the wonderfully down-to-earth lady who looks like your favorite aunt and designs those tiny jeweled bags that are carried to the best parties around the world (including the "Millie" she created for Barbara Bush) is working on a special project that should really rev up her many fans.

Leiber's plans revolve around a major milestone: She'll celebrate her 30th year in business in 1993 with a retrospective exhibition of her work in New York, and she's hoping collectors will come up with some of the golden oldies from her early years. Surely able to contribute a little something might be two of her biggest fans Bernice Norman of New Orleans who has more than 230 bags, and Barbara Davis, wife of business tycoon Marvin Davis, who always buys four identical bags ("one for each daughter, one for her daughter-in-law and one for herself," said Leiber, obviously a little pleased).

One of Leiber's current biggest successes is the "Millie" bag, which she never really expected to take off (among other things, it's $2,350). "I just wanted to make something special for her because she's so wonderful," said Leiber, noting that 360 of the doggie bags have been special ordered.

Far and away the best sellers right now, however, are Leiber's keychains ($30 and up) and pillboxes ($80 to $300), miniatures of the handbags that often carry four-digit price tags. "We can't keep them in stock," she said. Could it possibly be that the price is right?

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