NYFW: J. Mendel Brings a Modern Serge Gainsbourg Muse to Life

j. mendel spring 2014

Serge Gainsbourg’s breathless purrs have never ceased to strike our fancy, especially now that the French singer’s “Cardo Culte,” has served as the spark for one of our favorite collections from J. Mendel to date. Designer Giles Mendel cites the nuanced strains as helping him re-imagine Gainsbourg’s muse: an ultra-refined New York sophisticate, elevating ingénue silhouettes to the very height of elegance — which we read as a blithely chic Chloë Sevigny-type sporting his pure luxe designs from day-to-night, or Café Gitane to Le Baron.

For Spring, Mendel added a touch of refinement to pale pink, yellow, and grey separates from a black tie T-Shirt comprised of gold lattice embroidery, black silk, and scuba satin, to a goat hair vest with graphic lace and patent leather inserts. Bottoms, such as the silk crepe skirts and slouchy shorts, added ease to the palpable understated-glamour motif. Halfway through the show, the muted color spectrum was put on short pause in favor of a jungle print, which Mendel took to represent his muses’ down-home attitude. She took a walk on the wild side in metallic-strewn leaf embroidered designs that were as punchy as they were sleek.

As far as dresses, shorter hemlines dominated intentionally as an alternative to evening’s expected floor-length confections. A majority of the cocktail numbers featured an asymmetrical wrap skirt layered on top for an extra modern touch. The final look, a full-length, black laser-cut leather gown was the exception to Mendel’s cropped agenda, and is surely bound for a red carpet, or two, or three.

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