Opulence, Innovation and J. Mendel

Inside the evolution of a global fashion house.
J. Mendel, the sophisticated modern women’s retailer known for its bespoke evening gowns, recently unveiled a new location at 34 East 57th Street, New York. Photo courtesy of J. Mendel

By Julia Szabo

Continuity is both the promise and the profit source of the heritage fashion brand, so it takes confidence and courage when a high-profile luxury label veers into new, more sustainable design territory. That’s what J. Mendel Paris has done, in high style. Renowned furriers since 1870, suppliers to the Tsar of Imperial Russia and his family, relocating to Paris in the 1920s, then on to New York six decades later, the house has always moved elegantly with the times.

Today, J. Mendel celebrates a decade of subtly revolutionizing luxury: redefining regal opulence for the Instagram age. Contemporary customers range from Taylor Swift to Padma Lakshmi, Jordana Brewster to Meg Ryan, Sara Sampaio to Scarlett Johansson. 

A custom-made gown. Photo courtesy of J. Mendel

J. Mendel has literally turned itself inside out, focusing on the sumptuous fabrics it previously used to line its signature coats—the part that most fashion watchers didn’t notice—and creating liquid, sculptural evening wear, luxurious in its own right.

Gilles Mendel, designer and CEO of J. Mendel. Photo courtesy of J. Mendel

“I inherited a great legacy of innovating with fur,” says Gilles Mendel, proud heir to his family’s history of fashion innovation, including the perfection of “light-as-air” couture pelts. “I began to evolve my point of view with fur into ready-to-wear, creating dresses made from the finest materials that are light, luxurious and timeless.” 34 E. 57th St., New York;