We used to think that being blessed with good genes meant humidity-defying, frizz-free hair. But then we remembered Gilles Mendel, the fifth-generation couturier and lead designer of J. Mendel. An understanding of fur, not to mention wool crepe, silk chiffon and mousseline is part of the Mendel family DNA.

The fashion house dates back to 1870, when founder Joseph Breitman, Mendel’s great-great-grandfather, began swathing Russian aristocrats in sable. The brand has since evolved considerably (including the launch of a ready-to-wear label in 2002), but the luxury quotient remains as generous as ever. This helps explain why J. Mendel is a perennial favorite on the red carpet: Claire Danes accepted her Golden Globe in an unforgettable open-back gown earlier this year, and Emma Stone was white hot this winter at the National Board of Review Awards.

Claire Danes in J. Mendel’s open back gown and Emma Stone in the ecru cap sleeve dress

In an interview with Vogue, Mendel revealed his inspiration for his Fall 2012 collection to be the work of genius Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. “My approach to fashion is in that structure,” he said. “In the beautiful mosaic work, the texture and feminine architecture.” Like Gaudí, Mendel has a knack for making ordinarily rigid or heavy material (we’re looking at you, shearling) seem lithe and forgiving. And when the material is lithe and forgiving to begin with (hello, jersey), he’s a master of construction, designing dresses with an ennobling sense of structure.

We could go on about the many other reasons to be excited about J. Mendel arriving at Barneys New York, but perhaps the most compelling are the unspoken ones. You just have to try one on. So get yourself to Barneys pronto, or shop the J. Mendel collection on Barneys.com.

1. Reversible Bolero 2. Sweetheart Bodice Gown 3. Sleeveless Open Back Gown 4. Cap Sleeve Dress 5. Asymmetric Peplum Dress 6. Off the Shoulder Gown