PARIS — Fur, often a mere footnote during couture, will get plenty more airtime during the next high-fashion week with J.Mendel’s Paris debut on July 5 — two days before Fendi brings the fashion flock to Rome for its second “haute fourrure” runway show.
“We’re here to show we’re a major player as well,” said chief creative officer Gilles Mendel, who plans to parade about 35 looks at a 17th-century mansion on the Rue de l’Université.
While the New York-based designer plans to showcase eveningwear, “there will be a strong emphasis on fur for sure,” he noted.
Mendel has offered couture furs and ready-to-wear to elite clients for the past decade, realized in a 20,000-square-foot Manhattan atelier, and it’s a growing part of the business.
“I’ve always believed that the essence of luxury begins with artisanal craftsmanship,” he said in an interview. “Creating a couture collection is the ultimate expression of that belief.”
He intends the couture showcase to be a permanent rendezvous, in addition to his rtw shows in New York, the next scheduled for September.
Mendel plans to fly in clients from the U.S., and invite others from across Europe and the Middle East to the display, with only front-row seats and views of a private garden.
“There is demand for products at that level,” he said. “There’s an opportunity here to develop that part of the business, and for J.Mendel, it’s a natural thing to go for it.”
Last year, J.Mendel found a new majority investor, Stallion Inc., a privately held New York family business, with Mendel retaining a significant stake.
J.Mendel generates revenues of about $30 million in its fur, rtw and accessories business, as reported.
In recent years, J.Mendel expanded its existing retail locations in New York and Harrods in London, and opened two boutiques under a partnership in Seoul. The company has also launched handbags and accessories.
Currently, luxury furs account for about half of J.Mendel’s business.
Established in 1870, in Russia, as a boutique specializing in furs, J.Mendel has expanded into rtw, bridal and accessories over the past several years, with varying degrees of success.