Showing on the last day of New York Fashion Week can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, there are very few top-level designers showing, so it is a bit easier to get the attention of top buyers and editors. On the other hand, everyone is tired and cannot help but compare what they see on the runway with every other look from every other fashion show they’ve seen over the course of the week. What this means for designers is that they have to be fresh, upbeat, and really bring their best or risk getting horrible reviews.
Gilles Mendel has been here plenty of seasons and knows what is expected, but I’m not sure he actually pulled it off this year. Instead of a bright, fresh, and exciting spring line such as the one he brought this time last year, what we saw today was a collection that wasn’t quite as fresh (a number of the looks reminded us of his fall/winter line), certainly wasn’t bright (darker tones permeated the entire collection, and was far from exciting. There were too many times throughout the show I caught myself thinking, “That look is okay, but [insert designer name here] did it better.” By the time the show was finished, I was wishing I hadn’t bothered.
Silhouettes were, for the most part, copies of what we saw for the fall/winter 2014 collection. The looks were tall and lean, heavy with diagonal cuts and panels, tailored very closely to the body. Some of the sleeves had been shortened or eliminated, but not nearly enough. To make matters worse, his use of big, heavy, fur coats were too bright, too large, and too heavy for any kind of a spring/summer buyer to be interested. I’m not a huge fan of fur any season, but find it inexcusable for spring/summer. Gilles added severe shoulder padding and rounded shoulders to those looks when made them all the more impossible for the season.
What was new were the prints and there were some in green, yellow and white at the very beginning of the show that were quite attractive and interesting. The green, yellow, black, and white palette carried through to the majority of looks in some form or fashion. There was a touch of blue and a bit of pink along the way, but they were secondary. The single-shoulder and strapless looks were popular on dresses and the prints were at their best when the white was replaced with a metallic silver. The designs were perfect for the newer fabrics and wore them well.
Gowns were beautiful, full of chiffon and tulle flowing gently in the breeze, but here is where timing really hurt Gilles. As well as he did with the gowns, it was impossible to sit here and not think, “Panella Roland would have done it better.” In making sure he kept the lean, tall look, Gilles minimized the amount of air and motion the trains could catch, leaving them looking more dull. There was also a moment in which he stepped into red and black leather that reminded us far too much of the Proenza Schouler collection we saw last night.
Overall, the looks of Gilles Mendel are not horrible when one has nothing against which to compare them. For anyone who has been paying attention this week, however, the results were much to similar to other’s we’ve already scene to generate any real exitedment.
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison