Fall 2016 Couture
July 5, 2016
Welcome to “Show Notes,” in which FU’s critics offer an unfiltered peek at their musings and notebooks. For an in-depth analysis of the collections, don’t miss our forthcoming “Report.”
“It’s a dream come true for me,” says Gilles Mendel of J. Mendel of showing as a guest designer on the couture calendar this season. “It’s a return to Paris in the highest way I could expect. I wish my parents could be here, so they could see what happened to the house today.”
The first look is a sheer white mink dress. How is that even possible? He literally turned mink into sequins on silk chiffon, which is probably the hautest thing I’ve seen thus far at couture. And I don’t mean “hautest” like “hottest,” because, newsflash, they don’t mean the same thing. I mean “hautest” like the most luxurious thing I could imagine.
Equally haute? The white fur boots. And the beading.
Second look is a long black gown with cutout shoulders and more fur “sequins” it almost looks like mink chainmail. This is what couture is about, kids. Modern, exquisite, out-of-this-world clothes that actually look like a joy to have on one’s body.
“The concept is ‘back to Paris,’” Mendel explains of the collection. “Back to memories of my past. Memories of carving my initials on trees because my father told me not to get lost.” He embroidered J.M. 16 on the sleeve of a coat, and on a number of boots.
Other memories he wove into his couture collection include the gardens of Versailles, and his encounter with Keith Herring, both of which he expressed with graphic, mosaic-like beading. “It’s a celebration,” he continues. “It’s a mix of culture.”
He’s turned the whole idea of fur on its head here, offering mink, chinchilla, lynx, and ermine coats with cutouts, sheer panels, and exposed shoulders.
All of the ermine, or, as the show notes read, “metallic ermine”, pieces have a golden, iridescent quality that plays off of the gilded Baroque show space.
Also, there’s an ermine sweatshirt, which is possibly the most decadent thing I have encountered all week.
Mendel deserves a permanent spot on the couture calendar, hands down.