"What is my message for Spring?" mused Gilles Mendel in the crowded confines of the Lehmann Maupin Gallery, where his models stood about, giving everyone time for a close inspection. "Specialness, preciousness, and value—with a little something to make you dream." Spoken like a true Frenchman.

Close up is indeed the best way to admire Mendel's handicraft, especially the sculptural tulle and organza sunbursts that were like the sartorial equivalent of a biomorphic sculpture by Tara Donovan. There were enough frills and cascades to keep Mendel's charity-circuit regulars happy, but there was another welcome dimension to Mendel's lineup: structure. It was there in an unexpected and playful shorts suit, a smart ivory panel jacket and pegged pants, and a knockout citron double-faced satin structural dress that romanced the ongoing body-con trend with finesse.