The idea of Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour
made for a more mature J. Mendel
Resort. "I left behind the free-spirit ingenue of past collections for a grown-up woman," said designer Gilles Mendel. "Parisian-chic signatures." Those are oft-used tropes, to be sure, but Mendel made them work most of the time. See the double-breasted, notch-collar coat in a dusty pink-and-black jacquard leopard print just abstract enough not to feel same ol'. Elsewhere, Mendel played a little trick on several dresses, seaming them so that the natural figure was defined, but adding a trompe l'oeil band at the hip that mimicked a drop waist. It looked best on a silk-faille cocktail dress with a pink top, black skirt, and purple belt. On other frocks he used stripes all over: A daytime mini was peach, sherbet, and black in a silk crepe with a flared skirt, while an evening option in a similar color scheme was embroidered with sequins from top to bottom.
Fur made its requisite appearances—most fetchingly on a pale pink shadow fox vest—but leather dominated, from an off-the-shoulder crop top striped with black leather and organza to a pair of high-waisted black leather shorts. Some of it was a little too aggressive. For instance, the silhouette of a double-breasted skirtsuit was appealing, but in purple leather seemed overly opulent. Colored leather is always tricky, given that it is no longer the 1980s. While Mendel suggested that there was a toughness to the collection that doesn't normally surface in his work, it really seemed to be more about power. A woman wearing this particular set of leg-baring minis and sharp-shouldered jackets and dresses will not only look sexy, but also emboldened.