By  on January 10, 2005

DALLAS — With her creative charm, reedy voice and frazzled demeanor, Sherry Wolf is remarkably similar to Rosanna Arquette’s character in the 1985 classic “Desperately Seeking Susan.”

It’s not much of a coincidence, considering that the Seventies and Eighties were Wolf’s heyday, when she was a successful fine artist and nightly denizen of Studio 54. Plus, she experimented with accessories design, landing some novelty scarves in the windows of Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue and on the pages of WWD.

Now based in Owings, Md., Wolf took nearly two decades off to have children and dabble in fine jewelry design, but she’s back with a line of flashy leather handbags that meld style with function. She introduced them in October at the Dallas and Atlanta markets and plans to show at Spotlight in Dallas in January and at WWDMAGIC in February.

“I hate digging in my purse,” Wolf said. “And I like clean looks and lines, but you can funk it up if you want. Some are whimsical and fun, and I love a bit of bling-bling, but I will also do more important and serious bags.”

Wolf’s signature material is a soft suede embossed with a shiny crocodile pattern and offered in trendy colors, including bronze, iridescent white, lime and hot pink. She stitches it into two hobo styles, one of which she dubbed the Great Dane because it has a clip closure just like that on a dog leash, except Wolf’s is in pavé crystal.

The bags are made in New York and wholesale from $110 to $130, while the clip-on accessories range from $21 for a key fob with a pavé palm tree to $42 for a leather mini bag with a flap. This month, Wolf will introduce five new handbag silhouettes with more details, such as pockets and gold eyelets. They will be offered in metallic and distressed leathers and priced a bit higher, at about $150 to $200 wholesale, because of the details. She also plans to design fabric handbags.

Wolf expects the bags to generate about $500,000 in first-year sales. Since starting her business, she already has picked up 86 accounts, including Julian Gold in San Antonio.Wolf also operates a two-year-old line of silverplated jewelry designed to hold eyeglasses and sold primarily to optical stores. Some of those retailers, such as Rare Optics in Aspen, Colo., have picked up the bags. The jewelry did $600,000 in 2004, but Wolf is currently devoting most of her energy to the bags.

“A lot of people go off and do loony, wacky purses that are interesting and cute and different, but it’s not what people want to wear every day,” she said. “I want to stay grounded where it is functional, but the sky is the limit for all the rest.”

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