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Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU to launch Judith Leiber: Master Craftsman

Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU to launch Judith Leiber: Master Craftsman

New exhibition will celebrate the life and work of handbag visionary

January 13, 2020 at 12:00am


This March, Miami’s Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU will honor Holocaust survivor-turned-mega-designer Judith Leiber’s life, work and legacy with an exhibition.

Executive Director Susan Gladstone and Curator Jacqueline Goldstein worked with the Leiber Collection to curate the stylish show, Judith Leiber: Master Craftsman, borrowing bags from the collections of some of South Florida’s most fashionable and philanthropic women.
“Leiber’s work transcends fashion. Her bags are true objects of art and we are pleased to tell her remarkable story,” Gladstone said.
Alongside photographs of Leiber and her work, the ornately beaded bags that will be on display date back to her first designs in the 1960s through 1993, when she sold the company to a private equity firm and later retired in 1998.
Born in 1921, Leiber was the first female apprentice and master in the Hungarian Handbag Guild. She survived the Holocaust by initially staying with her family and 25 others in a one-bedroom apartment, then lived in a cramped cellar in a ghetto with 60 other people.
“This exhibition tells the story of a fearless woman ahead of her time. Her innovative bags, called minaudières, continue to inspire designers the world over to think out of the box - in this case the metal bag - and to stay strong and achieve their dreams, even in the case of extreme adversity,” Goldstein said.
Madonna, Beyoncé, Katie Perry, Sarah Jessica Parker, JLo, and Blake Lively are just a handful of the of A-list fans of Judith Leiber evening bags. The great, late designer (Leiber passed away in 2018) made handbags go viral - on the red carpet and off - long before social media even existed. Leiber’s innovative style is immortalized by her beloved animal and food themed minaudières. Bold, bright crystal-covered animals, desserts, and produce are among the quirky designs that have graced the arms of royals, first ladies, socialites and fashionistas for decades.
“Her story of overcoming great struggle to become one of the world’s most renowned handbag designers is an inspiration to all. This exhibition celebrates her work, life and the tremendous contribution she made to the world,” Gladstone said.
The exhibition opens on March 4, 2020 until mid-August. Located at 301 Washington Avenue, the museum is open Tuesday - Sunday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and closes on Mondays and holidays.For more information, visit