Sunday, November 19, 2017

Minaudieres - you get what you pay for

This is a story of three different qualities of an evening fish clutch and which one to buy. 

A few days ago, SIA spotted the following Olga Berg minaudiere at TK Maxx for $80. The original was $500.

So the research commenced to decide whether it was worth acquiring. 

The bag is a copy of the Judith Leiber koi fish minaudeure which has been done in many colours and has a retail of approx US$6K. 

Note that Leiber has done a number of fish styles & I believe a number of koi fish. The discussion in this post is only about one of those koi fish. This one. Sometimes it is called the Dora style. 

If you are curious, here is another Leiber koi worn by Blake Lively. It is the Ginrin Kohaku koi fish.

Attending The Age of Adeline premiere in April 2015

In Monique Lhuillier and Lorraine Schwartz jewels,
an overall vintage Hollywood style to which
the Leiber clutch gave a quirky contrast.

The shapes between the Dora Leiber & the Berg are not the same especially toward the middle & back of the fish. But as the high street would say, they are similar. 

The Leiber is completely encased in crystals unlike the Berg version which has "holes" in the casing, which are partly covered in "crystals". 

Leiber bags always use Swarovski crystals. Always. However for some reason, none of the retailers nor the actual web site mention this. They simply call the beads "Australian crystal". Must have something to do with legal restrictions. 

Leiber has an astounding sparkle to its crystals. The Berg stones are sparkly and the photo above does them no justice, but they are chalk & cheese with the Leiber stones. 

Leiber is made in Italy. Berg is made in China. 

Leiber is a brass base. Berg is probably a base metal. It is quite heavy, so I doubt that it is plastic. 

Leiber has a nappa leather lining, usually black, gold or silver. Berg has a felt fabric inner, in black. 

Leiber has a gold tone push button clasp.
Berg opens by flicking the dorsal fins - you can see a break in fin which is the opening. 

Both have removeable shoulder straps. 

The crystals on both Leiber and Berg are hand glued. 

Leiber has smaller outer measurements but Berg's internal measurements are not much larger than Leiber's internals. It's the Berg back fins which make up alot of it's outer measurements without providing storage room. 

Then I did some more research. You have to really love it when your job allows you to call online shopping research.

I found a version of the koi which is coming out of China & is being used by alot of high street brands. In terms of quality, it seems to sit in between Leiber & the Berg, obviously closer to the Berg than the Leiber.  Here it is. We'll call it the middle child.

And here is another colourway. In fact, there are a gazillion colourways of this one. 

This version seems to vary in price from US$100 to around US$400 give or take, the latter being the Natasha Couture price. 

It has more fins than Berg, hence more detailed crystal work. 

It opens via the dorsal fins like Berg.

The inner is generally polyeurethane.

It is not completely covered in crystals but like the Berg, has "holes" in the casing, which are partly covered in "crystals".

I've noticed alot of middle children state they are made with Czech crystals, but I am sure the quality of the bling varies.  One of the possibly dodgy sites calls the crystals "diamonds", not "diamond like", but "diamonds" with no inverted commas.

Aliexpress calls the crystals "crystal diamond". Yup. 

The main indicator of this middle child is that each fish scale has three rows of crystals. In contrast, each scale on the Berg has two rows of crystals. If you flip between the photos & look at this specifically, you will see that it is a serious contributor to the apparent quality differences. 

Based on photos from the more reputable sellers, the middle child looks like a better quality than the Berg but I have not seen it in real life. 


Do I buy Olga Berg?
Not yet. 
For the price, it's a decent high street version, although if I could see the middle child, I think I'd feel more comfortable with its quality. 

FYI, Leiber minaudieres generally start at US$6K. 
It's definitely a case of you get what you pay for. 

Judith with her bags

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