Custom-Designed Leiber Clutch to Benefit Children

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I’ve seen some incredibly creative fundraising tactics developed by local charities, but how many Orange County nonprofit organizations can boast that they’ve had a one-of-a-kind crystal handbag designed especially for them by none other than the renowned Judith Leiber company?

The Festival of Children Foundation (FCF) can, and they are selling only 100 opportunity drawing tickets at $100 each for a chance to win the clutch, with all proceeds from tickets sales directly benefiting FCF.

If you’re statistically minded, it doesn’t take long to calculate that them’s pretty good odds. If you know anything about Judith Leiber Company clutches, you know this is a steal of an opportunity to own one, and a fantastic way to support FCF and their many programs dedicated to improving the lives of children across the nation.

The one-of-a-kind Judith Leiber clutch designed for the Festival of Children.

The specially designed, crystal-inlaid “minaudière” (for which Judith Leiber became world-famous) features Festival of Children Foundation’s iconic logo of a child on a carousel horse. The diminutive, hand-sewn, leather-lined piece has more than 3,000 Swarovski crystals which took more than 15 hours by hand to insert.

“Judith Leiber has a rich history of charity partnerships resulting in limited edition bags, however, a charity partnership resulting in a one-of-a-kind minaudière is unprecedented,” said Mary Gleason, president of Judith Leiber LLC.

To own a Judith Leiber handbag for many women, is de rigueur – a must when it comes to completing a sophisticated, fashionable wardrobe.

To understand how special a Leiber clutch is, it helps to know a little about the extraordinary woman originally behind the company, and how famous and rare its meticulously handcrafted pieces have become.

Judith Peto was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1921 and was the first woman ever to join the handbag-makers guild in her home country, making her a trailblazer in the industry for the time. During World War II, she was able to escape the Holocaust thanks to a Swiss “schutzpass” her father was able to obtain. (Today, the pass is on view at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC)

After the war, Peto began creating handbags at home and later at a friend’s small factory. She met and married Gerson Leiber, an American soldier, and emigrated with him to the U.S. in 1947, where she worked as a handbag designer for leading New York manufacturers until founding her own company in 1963.

Leiber’s designs garnered a reputation for impeccable elegance and style as well as quality and flawless hand-craftsmanship that was unparalleled.  Her designs became and have remained a status symbol for women around the world for decades, including several First Ladies, countless movie stars, and women of high society.

Judith and her husband sold the company and retired in 1998. Today, her artful handbags and minaudières are part of the permanent design collections at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, The Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Los Angeles Museum of Art.

One of the very few Judith Leiber boutiques in the world is located at South Coast Plaza, which is where opportunity tickets can be purchased during the month of September (those interested should buy their ticket(s) before they sell out!). The winner will be announced Sept. 29.

For more information about the Festival of Children Foundation, which serves to bring together and coordinate the efforts of charities, companies and individuals actively working to improve the lives of children, log on to

Columnist Lynn Selich is a public relations and marketing communications consultant residing in Newport Beach. She can be reached at [email protected].

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