Gilles Mendel's father was a collector of aboriginal art, and it was, of all things, the tribal body art of the indigenous Australians that inspired his son's Fall collection. The house's famously luxe furs in mink and fox featured "intarsia" patterning that looked like elaborate etched tattoos—or, Mendel noted, like the geometric patterns of Art Deco, or the architecture of Jean Prouvé.
The clothes themselves alternated between structured pieces that picked up on pre-fall's tailored theme, and flowing gowns. Those tailored jackets and coats, many with mixed-fur bodies and contrast sleeves, were unquestionably luxe, but with their exaggerated shoulders and hard-edged, slightly eighties glamour, felt a bit out of step with the moment. More on-the-money was a series of flowing gowns, particularly one with a plunging neck, in embroidered rose-colored silk mousseline, glittering with beads. It had red carpet written all over it. Beading is a house first, and it was indulged to good effect; the sparkle leavened the black-heavy palette. Nor was it the only new thing for the label. The high, "tattooed" boots were, for the first time, Mendel-designed and made.
Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear
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