Best old beaded handbags came from France, Belgium

December 11, 1997|By Elsa Klensch | Elsa Klensch,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Before I married and started bringing up my stepchildren, I collected beaded evening bags. Now that both kids are working I've taken up the search again.

I've been looking everywhere, from thrift shops to flea markets, and have decided I want to concentrate on bags from the '30s. My question is, what qualities should I look for? I want to buy the best.

For an answer I consulted New York designer Judith Leiber, who has made luxurious beaded bags for more than 25 years.

She says the high-quality bags were made in three countries -- two in Europe and one in Asia -- in the '30s. Many were handmade of the finest metal beads, sometimes colored, but often in silver or gold.

"The best bags came from Diarville in France and had exquisite beading," she tells me, adding, "Their frames were often sterling silver with a trim of semi-precious or colored enamel stones.

"The next best bags came from Belgium. They were usually made of round crochet beads in solid colors or patterns. Look for drawstring pouches, as this was a popular style."

Leiber cites bags made in Japan as No. 3: "They are recognizable for their larger beads and cruder designs."

Good hunting.

Send questions to Elsa Klensch, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, 218 S. Spring St., Los Angeles Calif. 90012.

Pub Date: 12/11/97

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