Gilles Mendel offered up a practical take on Pre-Fall today, showing his new collection by appointment at his studio. As Mendel explained, he wanted the focus to be on “special” pieces—items his clients could wear with the (undoubtedly luxe) clothes they already own, but that would give those pre-existing wardrobes some thrill of the new. The outerwear here made Mendel’s point: Alongside the house’s signature eye-catching furs, there were tailored patchwork shearlings, buttery leathers, and jackets and coats in a tiger-stripe calf-hair, any of which would ably do the work of “spicing up” a wardrobe, to use the designer’s term. As far as nonanimal fabrications, the emphasis for Mendel this season was on tweed—looking smart in a bell-shaped dress—and on lace, which he used in both gowns and day-to-evening looks like a trim little suit. Mendel’s gowns make a lot of appearances on the red carpet, and as we head into awards season, one of his canniest moves in this collection was to translate prints and motifs from the gowns into more accessible looks. Witness the lace, or the ikat-ish print that was used on a va-va-voom, semi-pleated gown, as well as a more modest, midi-skirt frock. Savvy, very savvy. And that was the news here—nothing to write home about, except the fact that clever Gilles Mendel is making clothes his customers will want to wear.

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