For Hervé Léger, the early aughts — and its big celeb-driven PR moments — are back.
“I wanted to be back in Us Magazine,” said Melissa LeFere-Cobb, division head of Hervé Léger, while discussing her plans to reignite the brand on the Glossy Podcast. She was referencing Hervé Léger’s original heyday, when the brand’s signature bandage dresses were a style staple for every “it” girl from Paris Hilton to Britney Spears. In 2021, three years after stepping into her role and getting the brand’s new products into the hands of stylist Law Roach and others with fashion influence, LeFere-Cobb’s wish came true. Celebs including Jennifer Lopez began re-embracing the brand, and Us, among other publications, took notice.
“The bandage dress will always be a pillar” of Hervé Léger, said Michelle Ochs, who was enlisted by LeFere-Cobb to join the brand as creative director in June. Prior, she was one-half of the creative duo behind the fashion brand Cushnie et Ochs, before going solo via the Et Ochs brand in 2021.
However, today, thanks in large part to the fresh eye that Ochs is bringing to its collections, Hervé Léger is much more than body-con minidresses — and it’s in growth mode. Together, LeFere-Cobb and Ochs are setting plans for product category and international expansion as they build toward the brand’s next great era.
Additional highlights from the podcast conversation, which was recorded during a Glossy+ member event at the Hervé Léger showroom in the Empire State Building, are below.
On reviving Hervé Léger
LeFere-Cobb: “While it had gotten very quiet, it was a brand that was still very relevant. … But it needed fresh eyes. So I set a three-year turnaround plan, and it focused on product, price and PR. Product-wise, there was a lot of redundancy in the product, and they hadn’t really advanced it. So we were thinking about how we could add new silhouettes and make it more modern. We had gone from a time where people were wearing skin-tight bandage dresses and sky-high Louboutins to the Zimmerman effect, [defined by] a more ethereal, flowy way of dressing. So we [had to] think about a new customer. And then with price, things have changed a lot in the market. So [we started] offering some opening price points, [while also] having those higher price points; it was about [moving to] a good, better and best strategy, and being conscious of pricing in the market. And then PR. It’s a brand that had always lived on the red carpet, and it needed some more sizzle. And it was hard. … I ended up switching agencies to Karla Otto, which is a powerhouse in the industry, and they really believed in us. Together, we held hands and said, ‘How can we make this work?'”
Balancing business and design
Ochs: “We’re in a unique position where, [based on] Melissa’s background and my background, there’s a mutual respect. She totally understands the creative element and gives me that freedom and space. But I also understand, having started a business from scratch and counted every penny, that it [it can’t just be] designing all day. We definitely meet in the middle, where we speak the same language and we know what each person needs, but we also [give each other] enough room to breathe. And that’s very unique. That [business-creative] clash comes when there’s a wall and there isn’t that communication and space.”
The power of an experienced creative director
LeFere-Cobb: “Michelle’s been so impactful quickly because she had her own business. She’s asking questions about the list size, how we’re sending [product] out — every little detail. She’s been through it, she’s a business owner. So that has helped us move very quickly and make changes that are impactful. … Every month, we look at the emails: How much revenue did they generate? What was the click-through rate? And we did an email on Michelle’s arrival, and it had the highest grossing and best click rate among emails for the month. People are interested to see what she’s doing and what she’s going to bring to the brand.”