Rachel Zoe for Judith Leiber *pics*

  1. In The 'It' Bag
    The newest "it" bags aren't for the aesthetically or financially meek.


    Rachel Zoe, who has created looks for some of Hollywood's most imitated young women, including Anne Hathaway, Mischa Barton and Lindsay Lohan, has teamed up with handbag maker Judith Leiber to create a new line of five-figure purses.

    The Rachel Zoe for Leiber line debuts with an Alligator Ultrasuede Cleopatra Clutch ($8,695) and the Medusa hobo bag ($4,500).
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    Both have combine exotic leathers with bold details--24-karat-gold plated snakes and Austrian crystals--and were designed to make an extravagant statement. Think 1980s opulence, Versace pre-Donatella.

    The partnership came about during a time of dynamic change within the Judith Leiber empire. The company, which Leiber founded in 1963, is known for its hard-sided evening clutches, called "minaudieres," lavished with Austrian crystals. The bags, which come in myriad shapes--everything from tomatoes to Hello Kitty--have been collected by many a well-heeled woman over the years.

    Judith Leiber has a large and loyal customer base, but it hasn't been known as the most fashion-forward firm. Now, it's hoping to reach out to a different audience.

    "We didn't want to alienate our customers that had been huge supporters of the company for so many years, " says Robert Vignola, president and chief executive of Leiber. "We wanted to continue to create our classic minaudiere bags but also expand into something that resonated with where fashion is right now."

    As part of this process, the company dropped "Judith" from its name and decided to team up with a stylist like Rachel Zoe to give the brand a different type of luster.

    "I was shocked and at the same time so humbled when Frank Zambrelli [creative director of Leiber] asked me to do a joint collaboration," says Zoe. "All of my life I had grown up thinking that a Judith Leiber handbag was the ultimate in style, taste and sophistication, and now I was going to be creating something with them. It was an amazing feeling."

    Zoe thinks big in more ways than one and wasn't sure how Zambrelli would react to her ideas.

    "I wanted to use incredible leathers and exquisite hardwares--I really wanted the scale to be large and dramatic, even though we were designing a handbag," she says. "But that's just me--I'm in love with the drama of it all."

    To her surprise, Zambrelli was open to her vision and created something that embraced Zoe's edge but also could be the new classic--that isn't your grandmother's bag.

    Zoe created several versions of the Cleopatra clutch. In the first release, she used ostrich skin for the cover and a 24-karat gold-plated detailing in the form of snakes, with the added signature detail of Austrian crystal on the clasp.

    The snake is a symbol she has always had a fascination with. "It is a strong and mysterious look, especially on the bag," she says. "Symbolically, I love snakes. I think they represent something really great. In real life, I could not be more afraid of them."
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    The Cleopatra also comes in a minaudiere version, encrusted with Austrian crystals and retailing at just under $8,000. While the Medusa is a slightly more casual version of the Cleopatra, (some of Zoe's clients have seen carrying their gym clothes in it), it is just as glam-chic.

    Although celebrity lust for the bags is palpable, Zoe denies that she is fueling the product placement machine by giving her clients her bag at opportune red carpet moments.

    "I leave it up to them if they want to carry my bag or not," Zoe says. "There truly is no pressure--they just really like the bag."

    Hathaway, who has also been a long time friend of Zoe's, agrees.

    "Rachel is amazingly talented and so good at what she does," says Hathaway. "She truly is a fashion oracle."
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  2. Aside from the extremely high prices, I'm not wild about the snake design on the Leiber bags. I'm not the most fashion-forward person, tho, so let's hear some more opinions!
     
  3. I think that Zoe has taken some inspiration from Tom Ford designs but clearly cannot fit in his shoes.
     
  4. I'm not inspired by these bags . . .
     
  5. Not for me at all
     
  6. They're nice but exorbitantly priced. I do like that miniaudiere with all the sparkle.
     
  7. I love them, but such a high price :sad:
     
  8. Not my cup of tea. She's a stylist not a designer (although some of those handbags look as small as the people she's dressed).
     
  9. hmm...if these bags were meant to be fashion-forward, ahem!
     
  10. For the price I would put a little more and buy a Hermes, something that has value and is classic. These are nice but not great (considering the price). And I don't think these will stay in style for a long time.
     
  11. Too much $$$$.... I'll pass:shame: .
     
  12. will pass.
     
  13. I think they look a bit mature; meaning that regardless of the age, you will look a bit older carrying it. I did not mind the evening clutch Hathaway was carrying but the prices are just way over the top.
     
  14. The clutch looks cute on Anne Hathaway, but that's a "no way in hell" on the price tag.
     
  15. way too much money--and too over the top Versace-ish for me.