It’s a question each season whether Gilles Mendel’s furs for J.Mendel or his ready-to-wear, under the same moniker, will have the most impact. It has been, for the most part, decidedly one or the other, although Mendel gained his popularity as a fancy furrier to the Ladies Who Lunch. For fall, inventive furs trumped all. Intarsia mink was key, shown in black-and-white floral vests with matching, boldly fringed mink scarves, as well as in flared-back jackets and a garnet floral cape. And while Mendel seems to favor mink, his lace-appliquéd broadtail vest and a garnet ermine swing coat were nonetheless impressive.
With so many ready-to-wear designers showing lots of great fur this season, from patchwork and funky to luxuriously elegant and downright over-the-top “Dynasty,” there’s real competition out there. Mendel held his own by adding enough pattern and color to tweak even his classics. As for his ready-to-wear, most notable were the satin paisleys — a below-the-knee, long-sleeve dress and halterneck gown — and, the show’s finale, a knockout, swirl-embroidered ivory silk chiffon gown with a deep V-neck, long sleeves and a draped bodice.