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Press Release

Leiber to Address Issues Forum

For Release: March 17, 2004
College Station, TX - For more than 30 years, a Judith Leiber handbag has stood for the ultimate in craftsmanship and design. It has become an American icon of fashion and style and has evolved into a coveted status object for celebrities, socialites and collectors. Yet beyond the glamour and celebrity, Judith Leiber handbags also stand as remarkable works of art. Judith Leiber will share stories from her remarkable career at the next Library Issues Forum on April 7, 2004.

Born in 1921, Judith Leiber was the first female apprentice and master in the Hungarian handbag guild. She survived World War II in hiding, and met her husband, an American soldier, in the streets of Budapest when the city was liberated. After moving to the United States as a GI bride, Leiber worked as a pattern maker and then foreman for several handbag companies until she formed her own company in 1963. Initially, she and her husband were the sole employees of the company. Leiber did all designing and production while he made deliveries to major department stores. Leiber's first factory had four employees whom she worked alongside, teaching them her expertise. "There was such a sense of camaraderie, with all of us working together, producing these handbags," said Leiber. "I made my first line in a gray/green calf which was not that well received. Nevertheless, I was determined to make my bags as beautiful and as well as I could and not to compromise. I have never swerved from that goal. Never."

Judith Leiber's contribution to the world of fashion was recognized from the outset of her career. After only six years in business, she was given the Swarovski Great Designer Award for artistic use of the company's crystals. In 1994, Stanley Marcus, of Neiman Marcus, presented Leiber with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers. She was awarded the Silver Slipper Award from the Houston Museum of Fine Arts Costume Institute in 1991. Leiber was the first in the field to be given a Coty Fashion Award in 1973, and in 1980 was awarded the Neiman Marcus Winged Statue for Excellence in Design.

Judith Leiber retired from designing handbags in 1998, but the power of her vision and creativity continues to attract new generations of aficionados. Inspired by Leiber's original designs, Judith Leiber Inc. continues to enchant new customers and established collectors to this day. An enduring example is the Chatelaine minaudiere. Evolving reinterpretations of this classic handbag represent a meeting point for a new design generation and a pioneer.

Judith Leiber bags are included in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), the Historical Society of Chicago, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Bush Museum Issues Forum strives to present leading experts in their respective fields. The forum also provides a vehicle in which the local community can be engaged in discussion concerning topics and issues that face our nation. In the past, the Museum Issues Forum has addressed a wide variety of topics including terrorism, LBJ, Central Europe, and the role of intelligence in national security.

The forum begins at 7 p.m. in the museum's orientation theater. There is no cost to attend, but reservations are recommended. For more information, or to make reservations, call Amanda Urrutia at 979-691-4015.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
Telephone: (979) 691-4000 | Facsimile: (979) 691-4050 | TTY: (979) 691-4091