Gilles Mendel, the third-generation designer behind the beloved-of-socialites furrier J. Mendel, is a wizard with a pelt. That’s why his sporty designs are filling the closets of women who wouldn’t give mom’s mink a second look. In the past few seasons, Mendel has been adding in bits and pieces of made-to-order clothing to his seasonal presentations; for fall, he went all-out with a fashion show in the Bryant Park tents.
Mendel drew his inspiration from Anna Karenina, Tolstoy’s sensually beautiful, irresistible heroine. And there were certainly clothes fit for a czarina: figure-hugging silk dresses in pale colors, trimmed with dangling knotted cords; soft crinkly chiffon skirts that swirled around the knees; and tulle skirts that burst in pleats, all decked with plenty of Cartier diamonds. Mendel worked fur throughout, cutting flawlessly constructed lightweight coats and jackets from sheared mink and broadtail and putting fluffy fox shrugs over satin gowns. He even made a dramatic black dress from feathers and strips of mink; it was old-world luxe with a hip new attitude.