09/13/2012 09:07 EDT | Updated 11/13/2012 05:12 EST

J. Mendel mines luxe materials no matter the style season

NEW YORK, N.Y. - You don't need frills when you have fur, and J. Mendel always has fur. The label's New York Fashion Week preview was for spring, so no need for big, cozy coats, but mink hot pants? That'll work.

Designer Gilles Mendel, celebrating 10 years of his signature house, paired those cypress-green, close-crop shorts — made to have a velvet texture — with a mink jacket that had leather panels and a chiffon skirt when he took over the main venue at Lincoln Center on Wednesday.

Mendel stuck to his fine details and super-luxe materials, including buttery leather and guipere lace, but the overall look wasn't quite as frothy as he's done in seasons past.

He cited photographs of the Kawachi garden in Japan and the wisteria that grows there as a starting point. "Strong silhouettes and modern construction details counterbalance the floral motif; violet silk jacquard sculpts the form in a sleeveless belted trouser suit, while a wisteria-print tea dress in panels of silk twill and airy chiffon affords an easy elegance," Mendel described. "A silvery green dress in textured silk jacquard conjures old world glamour, the abstract print suggestive of rich foliage."

A series of pintucked chiffon gowns, some with goddess touches and others with accordion pleats, evoked garden fairies.

Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men" was there with an eye toward her Hollywood awards-season wardrobe, but, she said, she can't pick a dress straight from the catwalk.

"It's all about what looks good on you. You might like what you see here or what you might see on a model, but you have to see what it looks like on you."