There’s no way around the fact that J. Mendel is, first and foremost, a furrier.  Since fur is not so much my thing, it would have been easy to skip this particular runway show, but the truth is, Gilles Mendel has a way around an evening gown that can’t be denied, and for that reason, this is one of the must-see shows of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

If you concentrate on the gowns and leave out the fur, there’s still plenty to talk about in this collection.  A lot of the abundant glitz is missing this season, and that is definitely by design.  But it didn’t detract from the elegance of the collection. The color palette was muted, but still stunning.  At the same time elegant and edgy, a black chiffon sleeveless gown embellished with black stones presented a new, younger face to the J. Mendel woman.

A dangerously low-cut aubergine gown made the same statement: that Mendel is reaching out to a new, younger audience.  There were so many standouts, like the white gown with side cutouts, trimmed in gold, another black with a cut-out peplum top and accordion-pleated skirt, and a strapless, ethereal silver-gray that looked lighter-than air.

There was more of a focus on day-wear as well, a suit and a dress in a soft herringbone trimmed with leather that added a real edge.

The two most memorable looks were a dress in embossed leather with a matching coat that was so sleek and sexy, and an ultra-sheer gown with rhinestones covering all the important bits was absolutely amazing.  If I ignore the fur, and I do try, I have to say Gilles Mendel is more master craftsman than designer, and it’s clear why he’s such a red-carpet favorite.

Photography: Anton Brookes

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