By  on June 18, 2007

PARIS — Nathalie Bader has been in the driver's seat at Fred barely six months, but already the former Chanel and Sephora executive is steering the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned jewelry house onto new roads.

Bader, just back from Jordan, where she delivered a diamond-encrusted tiara for Princess Rania, told WWD her plans include accelerating the cycle of product introductions to every month, building a greater international presence, especially in the Middle East and Asia, and augmenting the men's business. Also, to bolster creativity, she is keen on forging partnerships with outside talent. That would follow an example set by the firm's founder, Fred Samuel, who in 1962 presented his first collaborative project, a pendant designed by Jean Cocteau, and later worked with artist Bernard Buffet.

Bader said she had tapped industrial designer Christian Ghion to "reinvigorate" the house's legendary nautical-themed men's Force 10 collection scheduled to launch in September. Bader said another tie-up, with art director Jean-Paul Goude, was in the works for next year.

"I want Fred to live in the modern world," said Bader, sitting in her office overlooking Place Vendôme, the nerve center of the high jewelry trade here. "Fred is a brand that is meant to surprise, one that is easy to understand, with a bit of an androgynous side."

Bader, who said she wanted to guide the house into a period of robust double-digit sales growth, emphasized the importance for the brand to speak to "real women" and lure people with its insouciant approach to chic.

"Our style is to create pieces that can be worn at all occasions," said Bader. "They are pieces that you can flag down a cab in or wear to the pool. I'm sort of that way anyway. I'm not a princess. I like to cook."

Founded in 1936, Fred was run by Dominique Watine-Arnault, LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault's sister, until she died last year. LVMH does not break down Fred's sales, but they are believed to have been about $20 million in 2006.

Well-known in France, primarily for its rings, Fred does not count a large presence in the U.S., where it operates only one boutique, in Las Vegas. Bader said the priority for growth would continue to lie elsewhere, including in Japan — which accounts for 35 percent of the business — the rest of Asia and the Middle East.Last year, founder Samuel, an adventurer who was a legionary before creating his jewelry business, died at age 98. In his heyday, he gained renown by catering to jet-setters like Audrey Hepburn and Princess Grace of Monaco. Bader said she wanted to build on Samuel's reputation for architectural styles with a strong masculine element.

This spring, for instance, the house's longtime artistic director, Yan Sicard, renovated the company's best-selling line of dog tag-like pendants (prices start at around $200), and new square watches (starting at around $3,500) are being introduced as Bader tries to make Fred a player in that thriving segment.

On the retail front, a design was just introduced in Fred's first shop in China, in Beijing, and it will also be used in a store slated to open in June in Dubai. Fred runs three stores in France, one in Japan and one in Seoul. Bader noted Fred would also redo its Place Vendôme flagship next year with a "friendly" decor.

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