Designer wraps NY Fashion Week in fur

Fur is back in the fashion industry, but designer Gilles Mendel, latest in a French fur dynasty, never went away - and now he's more in demand than ever.

At New York Fashion Week's Autumn-Winter 2011 show, Mendel is a star, the go-to man in a period when fur is back in demand, helped along by an especially cold winter.

"It's clear that when it comes to fur, he is way ahead," an enthusiastic blogger wrote after Mendel's show on Tuesday.

This French-born king of a fur dynasty stretching back five generations is known for the elegance and variety of his offerings in silk and all manner of furs.

No less than half his models came out wearing either sumptuous furs or leathers. The list of furs covered every possible texture and shade, unapologetically embracing the most luxurious, if controversial, of materials.

A beige coat in deerskin came with mink squares across the back, a leather coat was embellished with silver fox diamonds and mink, and even dresses adopted the theme, with black calf skin diamonds over transparent tulle.

No wonder handbags were carefully searched as the public entered - the Fashion Week security team did not want PETA or other animal rights activists to spoil the party.

In a departure for Mendel, models also wore his footwear, resplendent in full-length, deerskin cuissardes under satin or velvet skirts.

Mendel said he transforms fur, perhaps the most ancient material for warm clothing, into an easy-to-wear item. "It isn't as heavy as in the past. I break it down, I mount it on silk, I mix the leathers," he told AFP.

"Today I have a fashion house," he said, but the materials are something that he literally grew up with, playing as a child in the special refrigerated room where his father and grandfather kept their furs.

"I took naps in piles of sable," he remembered.

He has lived in the United States for 30 years and is a New York Fashion Week veteran, but still nervous.

"All the excitement is overwhelming, but it's truly a pleasure, I don't know. I'm still waiting for the results - the crowd's reaction - what they are going to think about the collection," Mendel said before his show.

He needn't have worried.

"The drape of it was great, all well done!" one man reacted after seeing the creations.

"His furs are beautiful and unusual and not the fur you see everyday walking," said Fern Mallis, founder of New York Fashion Week.

If fur sounds like the kind of thing that makes fashion an exclusive and expensive business for most people, then the growing use of YouTube broadcasts of the shows is helping to push the other way.

Fans watch the video clips online and then quickly post reviews and comments on Twitter and other social networks to rival those of the professional bloggers and fashion writers.

"This is exciting, I am watching Fashion Week from my apartment in Cambodia," one amateur fashionista tweeted.

"Thanks YouTube, it's like being on the front row for each show," another enthused.

One show the amateurs couldn't have watched, though, was Mendel, who isn't taking part in the special broadcasts.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Wes Brown is sent-off
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

    £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

    Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower