Judith Leiber designed over-the-top jeweled evening bags that have become cherished collector’s items.
She and her family survived World War II and the Holocaust as forced laborers in factories, living in shared apartments with other Jewish families and later hiding in a basement. All the while she kept dreaming of the bags she would make someday. She married an American and moved to New York, where she worked for many handbag companies and then started her own, making her signature bags for the rich and famous. They took the form of animals or food and all kinds of imaginative shapes. Each bag was covered in jewels and crystals in a plethora of shining, gleaming, bright colors. Blumenthal blends biographical facts with glowing, almost breathless descriptions of the unusual, beautiful bags and their celebrated owners. Readers may notice that the chronology is off; they learn that Leiber started her own company in 1963 and then, a few pages later, that Leiber designed Mamie Eisenhower’s bag for the 1953 inaugural balls. D’yans’ softly hued, slightly fuzzy illustrations depict many of the bags noted by the author and seem to shine as brightly as the bags themselves. Dark, muddy hues appropriately limn the Holocaust years.
Admiration for a unique talent shines as brightly as her jeweled creations in this biographical homage.(author’s note, photographs, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)