As a young person, Guccio Gucci moved from Italy to Paris. He worked his way up to the job of maître d’ at the Savoy Hotel. It was here that he became fascinated with the upper class guests of the hotel. At the time of the turn of the century, he returned to Italy and opened a workshop which specialized in producing travelware and accessories. His first travel cases and trunks bore the inscription : G. Gucci Articles for Travel, Florence. Right from the start, the Gucci brand was aimed at the international market. In 1921, Guccio opened his first store in Florence, Italy. In the fifties, Gucci’s son, Aldo, expanded the family business to include footwear. The horsebit loafer made its debut in 1953. It too was aimed at the international jet set. It was in the early 1960’s,when Gucci’s initials first showed up on the clasps of his bags. The double G logo in the diamond pattern became the most recognizable monogram in Italy!
You know how we fall in love with a particular fashion designer but we don’t know anything about them, we just know we love what they create. Sweet Repeats first blog is an introduction to a famous pocketbook designer — the illustrious, Judith Leiber!
The year was 1953 and the First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower sparkled under the party lights of the Inaguaral Ball. She was dressed in a pale pink peau de soie gown studded with rhinestones and wearing matching gloves, however, the most remarkable part of her outfit was the small, round pink silk lace pouch that was reembroidered with pearls and rhinestones. The purse was designed by Judith Leiber.
The pairing of First Lady and bag was especially meaningful because the bags creator might not have survived the second world war if it had not been for soldiers like General Eisenhower. Mrs. Leiber was quoted as saying “while he was trying to save Europe and the world my family and I were trying to survive”. She and her family were Jews living in Budapest at the time when Jews were being deported to concentration camps.
During these times, employment was very difficult for Jews however, artisan guilds were one of the avenues available to them. With a strong eye for color , Judith applied and was accepted into the handbag-makers guild in Budapest. She was the first woman in the guild. Her first assignments were sweeping the floor and cooking the glue. Judith completed the three stages of guild training—apprentice, journeyman and master.
After the war, Judith began making handbags from her home, doing all the work herself; everything from cutting to sewing. She founded her company in 1963 almost ten years after she had designed Mrs. Eisenhower’s inaguaral ball bag. At that time she was employed by Nettie Rosenstein.
In 1964, Judith married an American G.I.–Gerson Leiber. They came to the U.S. together in 1965.
Mrs. Leibers signature pieces are known as minaudieres. They are small and whimsical. She estimates that she has designed over 3,ooo bags—everything from roses, pigs, polar bears t0 watermelon slices.
The original bag designed for The First Lady is now on display in the First Ladies Hall of the National Museum of American History.