Proenza Schouler isn't the only brand celebrating its tenth birthday today. Gilles Mendel launched J. Mendel ready-to-wear ten years ago as well—about 130 years after his family established the house of J. Mendel in Saint Petersburg, as a furrier catering to the Russian aristocracy. Plus ça change: Walking into the J. Mendel show at Lincoln Center this afternoon, one heard plenty of Russian being spoken in the front row. And what did these new-wave czarinas get to see? Primarily more of the sharply cut, unapologetically luxe day dresses for which Mendel is known, and a great number of the diaphanously sexy, draped, and pleated gowns for which he is famous. And of course, they also saw fur—including a minty astrakhan minidress with an open-back trapeze top. Summers in Russia must be cold.
There were a few key recurring themes for Mendel this season: an articulated bodice construction, lace overlays, organza flowers sprouting on dresses, floral-print jacquard. But the real story here was color. The palette started soft and watery and ducked into navy and earth tones, but ultimately it emphasized what can only be described as hi-vis, construction-cone orange. (The show notes called this, rather prettily, "Tiger Lily.") For whatever reason, this color worked better on the statement pieces, in particular the flashy micro-pleated gown with handpicked cording and organza flowers. Maybe the reason was: If you're going to make a statement, why go halfway? In daywear, Mendel did better with a subdued orange floral print, which he used to best effect in a sharply tailored suit. As a full look, the suit may be a little eye-searing for the J. Mendel girl, but this collection provided her a bouquet of other, unabashedly pretty florals to pick from.
Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear
See all Timeline