2011 July 25

A Moment with...Judith Leiber's Jana Matheson

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Jana Matheson Jana Matheson
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Last week, Judith Leiber appointed Jana Matheson creative director to oversee design, advertising, e-comm, and licensed product expansion. Chic caught up with the designer by phone in her Madison Avenue showroom.

Congrats on your new job! Did you expect the promo?
I’ve been here for 15 months, so I suppose it was part of the bigger plan. It’s an honor that Mary Gleason saw me as a good match for the brand. It’s an exciting opportunity to help build and modernize.

How do you plan to celebrate?

I haven’t even thought about it! The first thing I did was call my husband. We’ll probably sit down and have a glass of champagne when we can relax.

What’s on your list of to-dos as creative director?

Expanding into new categories—like day to evening bags—and creating a more youthful spin to Mrs. Leiber’s classics to appeal to the younger collector. 

How did your stint at Badgley Mischka prepare you for this role?

I call my seven years at Badgley Mischka beading bootcamp. They’re talented designers, and they gave me a great handle on the evening business.

What’s the most challenging part of designing luxe lines today?

The process of getting the product made. There’s so many artists’ hands on the product, whether it's sculpting the actual Minaudiere or custom cutting the semi-precious stones for each ornament. We usually start a year in advance for each hand-crafted piece.

Do you think the handbag market is becoming overpopulated?

Not for luxury handbags. There’s room for everyone, particularly if designers stay true to the DNA of their brands.

What’s the future of luxury handbags?

I’m optimistic. The luxury customer will keep shopping. Leiber is a collectable item. We have a core group of enthusiasts, so we’re very fortunate.

What’s in your Judith Leiber handbag today?

Yves Saint Laurent red lipstick, Judith Leiber fragrance, Neutrogena sunblock, and a metric tape measurer.

Who's your favorite Judith Leiber enthusiast?

We’re actually working on a column for our website that features collectors. There’s some wonderful women that have 200 Judith Leiber bags. You know, the ones that keep them in their living room, light them up, and show all their friends.

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