Fifth-generation atelier J. Mendel might not be still primarily located in Paris, but its French creative director Gilles Mendel celebrates the same values and legacy his father, grandfather and great-great-grandfather supported beforehand. Showcased at New York Fashion Week just a few hours ago, the J. Mendel fall/winter 2016-17 ready-to-wear collection stays true to both the label’s classic legacy and iconic Art Decò references. Gilles Mendel remained true to his ‘fur reinvention’, as he is probably mostly known for his quirky ways of adding fur embellishments to the luxurious J. Mendel proposals.
What did not change at all is the atelier’s lightness and versatility in style, which make it possible for anyone wearing J. Mendel to both play with colors and look effortlessly chic at the same time. Giles, who showed his very first fall collection at New York Fashion Week in 2004, has so far demonstrated his terrific skills of working with totally different kinds of materials, from his signature fur to chiffon, wool and even tweed. This time, offering quite sexier designs, Giles not only enjoyed playing with different materials, but made sure all the different lines and cuts one could ever think of were included within his fall 2016 collection.
For the J. Mendel FW 2016-17 RTW collection, Gilles named Tamara de Lempicka and Sheila Metzner as his biggest sources of inspiration, because “both artists celebrated beauty and elegance, and they both loved flowers.” Polish painter Tamara de Lempicka began working on her paintings while overwhelmed with a strong Cubist influence, just to quickly develop her skills and become one of the leading female representatives of the Art Decò style both in Europe and the United Stated of America. She displayed her works in some of the most important elite salons of her era, inspiring Mendel to add some effortlessly sophisticated early Twentieth century vibes to the J. Mendel collection.
Given the fact that flowers and, more generally speaking, nature played a huge role in Art Decò, Tamara couldn’t exempt herself from portraying floral motifs, which exuded power and delicacy thanks to their fluid lines and strong contrasts. J. Mendel’s latest collection follows a similar path, as most of its proposals mix sharp cuts (look at those front and side slits!) with sinuous lines and strong contrasting motifs, which often become color-blocked patterns.
Gilles also enjoyed combining geometrical cuts with floral patterns, juxtaposing layers, cut-outs and structured tops to the waists and upper parts of the bodies. To accentuate such contrasts, he opted for alternating sleek fabrics with soft textures and even intricate lace embroideries, which of course display floral patterns too. Gilles enjoyed also portraying Tamara de Lempicka’s androgynous side, matching bottom-down shirts with solid-colored mannish trousers.
As for Sheila Metzner, Gilles managed to elicit the photographer’s ability to capture the innocence and sensual natures enveloped in her photographs, translating this to mermaid dresses, lavish fur attachments and curve-hugging jumpsuits, the plunging-V necklines and fluid ensembles being a pure pleasure to watch. Focusing on bare shoulders, he also managed to play with a more mysterious and elegant kind of sensuality, enshrining Art Decò’s true essence within a 46-piece collection.
Photos courtesy of Vogue