J. Mendel

Gilles Mendel’s philosophy has always been about using “traditional material in unexpected ways” and he has certainly made good on that promise. The innovative third generation furrier works in a very couture like manner, with amazing attention to fabrication, detail, cut, and execution.

As he evolves, each season, there seems to be more emphasis on ready to wear, sportswear and non fur items, and his evening wear has long caught the eyes of stars (or their stylists), who look to Gilles when they are getting ready to walk the red carpet. In addition, the young, A list social set, is always well represented in the front row, looking for that entrance making number that will grab the attention of the photographers and ensure that their faces make the social columns of the newspapers. And this time was no exception.

But spring was more than just his beautiful and diaphanous silk organzas or the arrestingly graphic black and white printed chiffons. Working in a neutral color palette emphasizing alabaster, stone, straw, chocolate, anthracite, opal, quartz, Gilles stated he was exploring modern femininity and the play of hard against soft (achieved through the use of ‘hard’ fabrics such as mikado, gazar, and organza playing off the house's signature silk chiffons). Certainly the collection of daywear was far more architectural than in past seasons...with a focus on triangular volume and structure evidenced in his terrific jackets and coats. But there was also an underlying feeling of sportswear and utilitarianism throughout the day portion, achieved through luxurious fabrication of pea jackets, trench coats, windbreakers.

Most importantly, Gilles has been successful in treating fur as just another luxurious fabric, making it truly year round, seasonless, supple, and featherweight, by applying mink and sable to layers of organza. This process has also enabled him to use fur in completely unexpected ways. And to convincingly show it for spring. Where else are you going to find (on a spring runway no less?) a pearl mink coat with silver disk closure, a knitted mahogany sweater with the ease of your favorite fair isle pullover, paired with denim shorts, or a tiny alabaster broadtail cropped bolero (with origami detail) sitting atop an alabaster silk chiffon strapless gown?

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