09/11/2013 08:49 EDT | Updated 11/11/2013 05:12 EST

Gilles Mendel sprinkles a 'little black magic' on the journey of an ingenue

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The progression of styles on Gilles Mendel's catwalk Wednesday saw a young ingenue grow into a woman.

He started his New York Fashion Week show with short shift dresses in white, yellow and pink, and moved from there into red leather, grey lace and his signature fur. The python motorcycle jacket over a patent-leather skirt must have been his muse's transition phase.

"She's strong, she appreciates quality, she loves clothes," he said of his J. Mendel customer — and inspiration. "I like a celebration of that woman."

Think of a Charlotte Gainsbourg type, he said in a backstage interview.

Mendel offered an extreme luxe interpretation of the sporty-chic look that has had a strong presence during this week of previews for next spring: His version of that woman has her in shadow fox paired with geometric lace.

"This collection is more focused, with a strong point of view. It's less about the ethereal and more sporty now," he said.

As for the series of black embroidered looks that closed the show, including the finale beaded lace gown with a halter neck and patches of sheerness, Mendel said he was thinking of "a little black magic" he saw in a film short.

"I thought the magic of my atelier could bring it to live."


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