We sat down with the creative mastermind behind J. Mendel, Gilles Mendel, to get the inside scoop on his Fall collection and learn more about what inspires the CFDA designer on a daily basis.
Tell us about the inspiration for your Fall 2014 collection:
With every collection, I’m always trying to push the boundaries of the atelier in terms of using unexpected materials in new and innovative ways. For Fall 2014, I really wanted to celebrate the creative artistry of the house of Mendel with an exuberance of color and pattern, which feels like a break from tradition.
I was thinking a little bit about the Ballets Russes, which has parallels with J. Mendel’s own Franco-Russian heritage, in terms of the vivid color and pattern play of the costumes, and a sense of controlled asymmetry and color rhythm.
Where do you usually look for inspiration? Do you have a particular process or creative methodology?
My inspiration for each collection can come from a different place, or I stumble upon it in a different way. It’s always organic, instinctive. It can be a color, a mood, an image, a place, a pattern. Or it can be an evolution of an idea from the previous collection – it doesn’t have to be an abrupt change in direction. I sketch a lot, too, and sometimes an idea just jumps off the page. Once I’ve found my inspirational starting point, the palette and materials take shape, and everything else starts to unfold from there.
What part of the design process do you enjoy most?
Honestly, my favorite moment is right at the end, when the collection is finally unveiled on the catwalk. For those few, beautiful moments, the agony of the preceding days and months is completely worth it! That’s the problem with being a perfectionist – It can be hard to relax and enjoy the process. But of course there are those lovely occasions when things come together in an unexpected way, or turn out even better than one hoped, and that can be very satisfying.
What are you currently most excited about?
My next collection! Eyes forward, always. That, and the fact that summer is finally here! As much as I love fur, I adore summer.
“La vie ne vaut d’être vécu sans amour.”
– Serge Gainsbourg
Advice to aspiring designers: