Charlie’s Angels fever; culottes return

Smart Set
Gilles Mendel

French furrier Gilles Mendel gives his followers a reason to visit their neglected great-aunts: to pillage their closets in search of fur, any fur, however shoulder-padded, thick-waisted, or poorly cut. “I drive down Park Avenue, and I think, In each apartment of each building there are at least two, three furs just hanging in the closet,” he says, “and no one knows what to do with them!” Mendel does. He’ll cut up a Mamie Eisenhower mess and turn it into a poncho ($7,500, pictured) paired with fur-trimmed Diesel jeans ($1,800); a knapsack that moonlights as a muff ($9,000); a little jacket for the shih tzu ($2,250)! He has a shop at 723 Madison Avenue and a boutique at Bergdorf Goodman, where he held an afternoon tea last week to help his ladies reconceive their coats. “I’m the fifth-generation furrier,” Mendel says. “I was a champion skier, I lived in the jungles of Guatemala with the Indians, I have an M.B.A. in business, but to go one step further with fur? This!” He closes his eyes for a second. “This was always my passion.”

Knicker Knack
Forget the eighties revival. The city’s clotheshorse crowd is returning to 1977 and pulling on … culottes. With everyone prancing about in dominatrix-height boots, perhaps it was inevitable that shortened slacks would come back into vogue. (Why bother plunking down hundreds of dollars on a pair of Jimmy Choos if the only thing visible is a calfskin-covered toe?) Call them knickers, gauchos, even cold-weather Capris – the important thing is to channel a certain Rickie Lee Jones-meets-Annie Hall sensibility. Club Monaco’s classic tweed version has already sold out; British designers Boyd and Grab and Mac offer styles in wide-wale cords and wool checks ($295 and $265, respectively; available at Kirna Zabête); and Barbara Bui has scissored out a slim-cut denim pair with fur piping ($225; 115 Wooster Street, 212-625-1938).

Karate Kicks
Once worn only by kung fu masters and kickboxers, the Adidas “Martial Arts” sneaker ($49.95 at Honda Martial Arts Supply, 120 West 30th Street; 212-563-6688) is fighting its way onto feet outside the dojo. The slipperlike shoe has become the newest I-can’t-believe-you-found-it prized possession of downtown hipsters and stylists. The superthin sole may be impractical for lengthy Sunday excursions through SoHo, but the lightweight construction comes in handy “for making late-night trips to the deli,” says one Prince Street stylist who wears his pair with vintage boot-cut Levi’s. “Or for roundhousing your way through a sample sale.”

15 Minutes …
It started even before the trailers exploded in theaters: a few feathery wings in Amber Valetta’s hairdo here, a tight tee showing that famous silhouette there. Then it morphed into full-blown Charlie’s Angels fever. It borrowed from the seventies (see Patricia Arquette’s and Winona Ryder’s new coifs) but added nineties touches like rhinestones and airbrushing. Henri Bendel is selling a whole Angels line: flame-embossed purses ($198), Juicy T-shirts ($48), hip-slung belts ($168). But is the fever breaking? “I started playing with it six months ago,” says hairstylist Garren of the revival cut known as the Farrah, “but now I’m bobbing it all off.”

Charlie’s Angels fever; culottes return