Judith Leiber is looking to update its hip quotient. The accessories brand — known for its bejeweled minaudières that often take the form of animals and desserts — has teamed with Bergdorf Goodman in the early stages of this reinvention.
The brand has collaborated with Los Angeles, renegade luxury label Libertine on a line of acid-bright, limited-edition clutches to sell exclusively at Bergdorf’s.
A personal appearance featuring Leiber’s creative director Jana Matheson and Libertine’s founder Johnson Hartig will take place on the department store’s recently renovated main floor today. The event is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m.
“It was like designer matchmaking,” Matheson said. “I’ve been with the brand since 2011 and something that I’ve always had as a focus is shifting the perception within our brand. In our showroom we have many clean pieces layered in with more traditional pieces and the challenge is coming up against expectations at retail — where what most people see are the traditional pieces. We do develop and try to push forward into new territory each season,” she added.
Said Hartig: “We come from different mind spaces and I think that was kind of appealing to the Bergdorf Goodman buyer [who paired us] because she thought it might be so crazy that it could work. I’ve been aware of their minaudières since the Eighties. All the legendary socialites had Judith Leiber bags.”
Together, Hartig and Matheson have created two styles — a dachshund and a pagoda — each retailing for $4,995.
According to Matheson, the collaboration’s results are proof that the time is ripe for a Leiber resurrection. Particularly in light of the current early Aughts aesthetic renaissance, she says, the brand could benefit from a heightened retail presence.
“There is something for everyone in our collection, and I do think it’s also for somebody really focused on high fashion — it is part of that aesthetic “Sex and the City” vibe — I think there has been a lot of minimalism out there, and it’s a good time [to move in the opposite direction],” she said.
“We do plan to move forward with strategic collaborations that can highlight a cool new Judith Leiber aesthetic. We plan to reach the next generation of clients. Some of them are already familiar with the brand heritage and didn’t know that you can wear our bags casually, and new collectors that are looking for something unique and artful.
“Designing for a storied brand is often a double-edge sword. The upside is the archives, and a best in class craftsmanship, a remarkable brand story. The downside can be cutting through preconceived notions of the brand from customers and retailers. Collaborations can be a wonderful opportunity to turn things on their head, offer a fresh look, and give a swift push forward.”
Matheson says that the brand is looking to add accounts at edgier specialty stores including Opening Ceremony, Maxfield and Colette.