Late last month the fashion world lost haute-accessory designer Judith Leiber, she of the glittery little evening bags toted by First Ladies, socialites and women who don’t faint when paying $4,000 for an evening accessory. Judith Leiber bags are mostly minaudières, small hard-shell clutches meant to hold little more than a lipstick—often not even a cellphone with which to summon your driver at the end of the gala (or your reading glasses so you can see the screen!)
Judith Leiber took minaudières way over the top, turning them into crystal-encrusted objets d’art, and whimsical art objects at that: glittery curled-up kitties, plump pink pigs, bashful penguins, a perky monkey, a full-blown rose, a cupcake—and a whole raft of crystal-encrusted boxes, round, square and rectangular.
Minaudières have been around since the 1930s, we learn from Wikipedia, when Charles Arpels (yes, of Van Cleef & Arpels) got the idea of a metal reticule that would carry a fashionable woman’s nécéssaires as well as serve as another piece of jewelry for an evening outfit.
Even with Judith Leiber gone at age 97, her brand lives on (she and artist husband Gerson Leiber sold it to investors some years back). Even better, there are minaudières at much gentler prices, almost as glittery and obviously inspired by Judith Leiber bags. No French bulldogs or cupcakes, but lots of gleam and glitter to light up the night.
Whiting & Davis’s “Charity Heart” minaudière in baby-pink mesh (with an optional snake-style chain) has a lot of look for $178 at Nordstrom. The company also allocates 25% of the purchase price to breast cancer research. Win, win.
“So Kate” is a signature Louboutin pointy-toe stiletto, and “So Kate” is the patent-leather Kate-shaped minaudière from Louboutin (look closely at the flap of the baguette and you’ll see the “So Kate” silhouette, from Louboutin’s original drawing of the shoe.) It comes in shiny black, nude or red and is $850 at Nordstrom.
Jeffrey Levinson’s Elina Pearl Gloss Clutch is made of aluminum and leather with a spectrum metallic finish. It comes in blue (shown), which shades to violet, and red, which glows in red and orange. It’s $1,250 at Nordstrom. Levinson’s Elina Electric variations come in an aluminum finish ($895) and an 18K-gold-covered aluminum ($1,550). Or if you really want to go for broke, there’s the gold-flecked finish ($4,250). All at Moda Operandi.
The shape’s the thing with this Shellfish Clutch by Kayu, perfect for summer, day or night. Clutch or crossbody (there’s a chain tucked inside), the rattan Minaudière is available in the pale tone shown or in shiny black. It’s $228 at Anthropologie.
Okay, then! Here’s Kate Spade New York coming at you by way of Saks Fifth Avenue with a pineapple, woven leather on a solid frame. And it has a wrist strap so you don’t have to clutch it and look as if you’re at the farmers market for the entire party. It’s $398 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
From Edie Parker at Saks Fifth Avenue, the “Jean” glittered acrylic minaudière has one inside wall covered with mirror (to reflect the good time you’re having, maybe). It comes in glittery silver and glittery gold and is $895 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
From Nina, the “Gelsey” crystal-embellished minaudière will give off more light than the red-carpet photographers. It has a drop-in chain and can hold a pair of reading glasses! The bag is $125 at Nordstrom.
English designer Anya Hindmarch says her Circle Pillow Metallic Leather Clutch is based on throw pillows from the 1970s. Right! And it comes in iris (as shown), gold and silver and has an optional wrist strap. It’s $575 at Nordstrom.
A handsome Deco-inspired box clutch faced with color-blocked metallic mesh is a tailored variant on the minaudière. By Whiting & Davis, it comes in black-multi (shown) and gold-multi. It’s $90 at Nordstrom.