Today's J. Mendel show was a mellifluous affair: Making a U-turn from last season's sharp silhouettes and color-blocking, designer Gilles Mendel sent out a collection that emphasized soft shapes and a neutral palette. His experiments largely centered on the construction of his furs, in particular the coats that knit together various fur textures, and voluminous yet lightweight dégradé furs mounted on tulle. Elsewhere, Mendel focused on dirndl-shaped short skirts in crepe and wool breezy pleated ones made from chiffon. He girded all that movement with architectural cutouts and structured tops and jackets; his paneled crocodile and metallic tweed jackets were particularly fine.

Alongside the furs, gowns are the J. Mendel stock-in-trade, and with Oscars looming, Mendel didn't stint on the glam eveningwear. That said, there weren't any gowns at this show that screamed to be seen on the red carpet. One possible exception to that rule was a strapless, gold-beaded sheath; otherwise, his beaded and hammered charmeuse bias-cut gowns were very nice, but not jaw-dropping. On the whole, this was a collection full of ultra-luxe elegant looks that will go down easy with the high net worth J. Mendel customer. That customer is also likely to be very pleased with the debut of J. Mendel bags: The designer introduced the range with a natty, oversize crocodile handbag, lined with mink and alpaca.