True to its name,the Empress commands attention. Laden with real gemstones amethyst,opal,emerald and pearls coupled with Swarovski crystals and a bejewelled tassle,this Judith Leiber 50th anniversary bag defines decadence. It was officially unveiled recently at a couture show by ace Indian designer and couturier Suneet Varma,who celebrated the American luxury bag labels golden anniversary as well as his collaboration with the iconic brand. Its been an exciting collaboration as well as a learning experience, says Varma,who was signed on as the international designer with Judith Leiber Couture in 2009. Over the years,the Suneet Varma for Judith Leiber clutches and minaudieres have found their way all over the world from boutiques in the Middle-East to luxury stores such as Neiman Marcus in New York,Harrods in London and even the prestigious Vendome Luxury Trade Show in Paris.
While his contract has been extended for another three years (starting this season),a few months ago,Varma was invited to create the anniversary edition. I felt very honoured as the Judith Leiber brand is so iconic and over its 50-year history,it has become synonymous with the best dressed internationally as well as royalty, says the designer,who started working on it many months in advance. We discussed in great detail the relevance of the 50th anniversary bag not just for today or just for India,but for many years ahead,and the fact that it had to be sold worldwide, Varma says.
Inspired by Indian royalty and architecture,the designer zeroed in on the hexagon shape. It reminded me of a faceted gemstone and we have embellished it with real gemstones,pearls and Swarovski crystals, says Varma. Though a single design,the 50th Anniversary edition would be available in four colours ruby,gold,blue and emerald. Varma has also designed the Spring-Summer 2014 collection which will be in stores March 2014 onwards. I will continue to design two collections every year for the next three years, he says.
Just like any Judith Leiber loyalist,Varma too has his favourites. The Starburst clutch as well as the Bidri clutch from my first collection are special to me. The Empress is a recent addition to that list, he says.