According to the J. Mendel show notes, designer Giles Mendel was inspired by Serge Gainsbourg's song Cargo Culte, and the iconic French singer's free-spirited style. But you wouldn't necessarily guess that from the collection.
When I think of Gainsbourg, I think of easy, free-flowing shapes, and sexy swagger. Mendel's show had elements of that famous sexy swagger, but overwhelmingly, it stayed true to the house's signature Park Avenue polish. I kept thinking it looked like something a high-powered fashion editor--with hair pulled back, an icy expression on her face--might wear.
The show started out with a series of gowns and dresses in pastel pink and yellow lace. One of the fishtail evening gowns had pockets, which I loved. These gave way to more "day" looks: Short dresses and skirts in grey and white. My favorite looks were the ones in grey and green sparkly sheer embroidery--I was particularly enamored with a grey metallic sheer top matched with slouchy grey pants. According to the show notes that look was paired with a black cross mink vest, "trimmed with python lapels--because why not? This is a fur that won't keep you warm, even as it holds you in an embrace of unapologetic luxury."
And that, to me, was the heart of the collection: Unapologetic luxury for the woman who doesn't wear a coat to keep warm. It's this out-and-out glamorous, yet pulled-together, ethos that has won Mendel so many well-financed fans--and we have no doubt this collection will be winding up on their backs come spring.