Gilles Mendel found an ideal collaborator in the artist Enoc Perez. The friends share a love of architecture—which is a big, and often direct, influence on their work—and are drawn to the same colors. “We speak the same language,” Mendel said backstage before the show. In 2013 they even made a book together, Gilles Mendel by Enoc Perez, a series of collages of Mendel’s work created by Perez. For Spring, Mendel asked Perez to help build his collection. The partnership somehow allowed Mendel to better focus, resulting in sharper, more-pleasant-to-digest clothes.
To create a cohesive thread across the 45 looks, Mendel drew from Perez’s paintings of buildings, which were mimicked in the diagonal-grid designs on many of the dresses, gowns, and even a few furs. (Some were painted on; others were woven, beaded, or pieced together.) Mendel kept a clean silhouette throughout: There were waisted minidresses in one-shoulder, strapless, and cap-sleeve varieties. Many gowns, featuring his signature pleats, were color-blocked. And about that color: What a dynamite use of red! There were also electric pink, seafoam, and citron, paired in wonderfully clashing ways, using black and white as stabilizers. One of the finest looks was the simplest: a black crewneck mini in scuba, with a shock of pink patched into the skirt on a diagonal. What was so great about this collection was that Mendel didn’t just digitally print one of Perez’s paintings onto a dress or a T-shirt; he truly incorporated them. It felt quite authentic, like any good collaboration should.