Patchwork was the name of the game for Gilles Mendel this season. That was true in a micro sense and in a macro one: Not only did Mendel work a mix into his typically polished clothes, he also applied the "little of this, little of that" MO to the collection as a whole. The patchwork effect scored in the looks that featured it, but the collection overall never really cohered. The show started strong, with a series of outfits in white and sherbet tones that featured various kinds of lace. The gowns in that group had real panache—sexy fitted fishtail numbers that nonetheless expressed a sense of gamine sweetness rather unusual for J. Mendel
. Then there was a lick of sportiness, and then a hit of that J. Mendel-trademark slick, uptown, razor-sharp glam, and then a group of dense, arcadian jacquards, and then a graphic group in mean yellow, black, and white.… And then more stuff—more colors, more varieties of proportions and silhouettes, more attitudes, more everything. (This being a J. Mendel show there was fur in there, of course.) Mendel is usually a very focused designer, but this time out it felt like he was grab-bagging, hoping a message would emerge that was more than the sum of this collection's many parts.