Instead of his traditional runway show, J. Mendel designer Gilles Mendel decided to switch things up, displaying his spring line in an East Village penthouse at the hip Standard East Village hotel. In the bright sunlit space, he chatted about the line's craftsmanship and his inspiration. As in seasons past, it was photography that got his creative juices flowing.
The work of Spanish photographer Emilio Jimenez (who shoots body parts overlaid with intriguing shadows -- of ferns, leaves and such) and Viviane Sassen (who is Dutch and shoots anatomy in abstract forms) comes to life here, but in 3-D form, and textured in silk, tulle and mink. "I took this idea and tried to translate it into clothes with a graphic, transparent play," says Mendel.
And so there is a flowing leaf-print dress with a cut-out leather jacket, or silk brocade printed like foliage. But in a sea of stunning dresses and geometric lace pants, the fur is most unusual, cut into strips and sewn on tulle for an airy, striped coat, a latticework jacket, or sculpted into round floral buds on a pink bolero. All playing with shadow and light, just like the photographs.
These don't have the weightiness of traditional furs. "They're more playful, seasonless," and can be worn anytime, he says, then -- "OK, except when it's really, really, really cold outside," he adds, laughing.
Photographers have always inspired him, from Helmut Newton to Avedon. "I spend most of my day studying images -- photographs, architecture, paintings -- because you never know where the next idea may come from." (Joseph V. Amodio) (Credit: J. Mendel)