By  on March 2, 2010

Eagle-eyed label watchers of the Golden Globes might have noted the striking number of Judith Leiber bags clutched outside the Beverly Hilton: 23, to be exact. Of course, a crystal-studded minaudière is exactly what you’d expect on a red carpet (the company is also hoping for a high turnout of its wares for the Oscars). But with a planned fall 2010 rollout of day bags, costume jewelry and a new fragrance, the company saw its Globes outing as crucial exposure.

“The recession has actually been good for us because, when times are good, you don’t try to fix things,” says Mary Gleason, Leiber’s president, who was installed in 2008 by parent company Schottenstein Luxury Group.

By fixing, Gleason means retooling, as she has done with the firm’s image — she reverted the label’s title from Leiber to Judith Leiber — and adding to its signature evening collection a more versatile day bag lineup.

Late last year Gleason hired Amis Garrigue, a former creative director at Seven For All Mankind. Garrigue created a fall 2010 lineup of larger leather bags with details like ruffles and hardware, pieces that Gleason sees as easing from the office to a cocktail party.

“We’re taking our core customer and giving her something else to buy,” Gleason explained (they will retail for between $995 and $1,995).

With the launch of a flagship on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills last fall, Gleason also saw an opportunity to venture into costume jewelry for fall 2010, which she hopes will fill an aspirational niche (and find a fan base in the stylists and starlets who visit the store, which offers services like champagne and catering during awards seasons). The line includes cocktail rings and necklaces, and will retail at about $250 to $1,200.

“We’re trying to be more on trend, more fashion-oriented, because we also need other customers,” says Gleason, comparing the aesthetic to Leiber’s more classic evening bags. She adds that the quality will be consistent with a luxury brand.

Gleason anticipates the expansion will boost business: According to her, retail sales in 2009 were about $35 million and are projected to reach $50 million for 2010.

And yet another category will complement her new handbags: Judith Leiber shoes, to debut around late 2011. The line will likely include the label’s signature crystals, but skew less formal.

“I think there’s a price point missing,” Gleason says (though a price point has yet to be determined). “Fashion shoes but not high, high fashion.”

The firm will also launch a new perfume for holiday, which follows the 2007 release of the company’s first fragrance, Leiber. But Gleason stresses that the perfume, costume jewelry and handbags will be considered secondary to Leiber’s evening pieces. “I never let an expansion of categories interfere with my core,” she says.

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