If technique, the element of surprise and endless mixes of color and texture are what you want in a fur, then Gilles Mendel is your man. His collection for J.Mendel was all about bold geometric coats and jackets — some dizzying with the number of elements combined in a single piece.
Before the Russian Revolution, Gilles Mendel’s great-grandfather made furs for the House of Romanov. So this season’s inspiration—the ornate costumes of the Ballets Russes—was certainly informed by the furrier’s roots. “It’s a celebration of artistry,” Mendel said backstage before his show. “The clothes are bold, but there’s an ease to them as well.”
His collection for J.Mendel was all about bold geometric coats and jackets — some dizzying with the number of elements combined in a single piece. Consider, for instance, a chevron intarsia fox-front jacket with diagonal panels in emerald eel and a sapphire mink breastplate. If that’s not enough to take in, it was shown with an emerald eel skirt with an asymmetric front slit.
But for all the impressive technical know-how these looks showed, it was the less-contrived furs and dresses that were the best of show. A long plaid mink vest over an emerald leather turtleneck was a chicer, more restrained version of the trickier show pieces. Mendel even went stark with solid leather sheaths, and soothing with a delicate off-white and taupe knitted fox capelet.
The defining look was the first. The diagonal plaid broadtail coat, worn with a hooded bolero in red sable, instilled the “sense of luxury” Mendel sought. And while the starting point was the turn of the twentieth century, the styling was sharply modern. There were looks more in a lean silhouette: chevron wool coats in beige, red, and black, with luxurious red furs wrapped around the neck. A high-collar white mink coat with horizontal leather insets was graphic and distinctive, as was the cape coat following it. (With a strip of white shearling down the front, it looked more like an anorak; the close-to-the-body cape was a unique touch.)
In eveningwear, which J. Mendel has become just as well known for as fur, graphic elements again stole the show. The pleated chiffon gowns were pretty enough, but those embellished with crystal-embroidered tulle inserts—either at the collar or around the waist—were the ones that really caught the eye. Still, the true standouts were the mink dickeys. Done in sapphire and black and worn over long fur coats, they were wildly luxurious and felt very new.