September 12, 2004 New York
He started out strong, with a creamy tweed coat picked apart at the edges and put over a powder-pink chiffon coat. That shredded-edge motif showed up throughout, as a means of breaking up Mendel's rich, polished aesthetic. He understands his customer: The season's trends (face-powder colors, full skirts, fluttery soft fabrics) were all present and accounted for, and delightfully accented with charm bracelets from his sponsor, Piaget.
Mendel has a sense for the unexpected; a plunge-neck coral satin dress over a hand-painted petticoat added a delightful color burst. Mendel even managed to sneak in a bit of fur, in a sable collar on a tiny little jacket, or a goat-fur jacket made with his signature, elaborate piecing. But Mendel undercut his strengths by overloading the embellishmentwhen one outfit has sequins and pintucks and rose quartz trim, the eye doesn't know where to go first. If he could tone things down just a bit, we'd all be the richer for it.