Designer Q&A

Monique Lhuillier has all the answers about how to dress for evening

Monique Lhuillier has all the answers about how to dress for evening

Monique Lhuillier spring 2016 collection Look 33
A different look for evening wear: Cigarette pants with a contrasting top and train. Photo courtesy of Monique Lhuillier
Monique Lhuillier bridesmaids gowns
Monique Lhuillier bridesmaid gowns are available for rent on Vow To Be Chic. Photo courtesy of Monique Lhuillier
Monique Lhuillier spring 2016 collection Look 25
Monique Lhuillier says that women want more options for evening wear. Photo courtesy of Monique Lhuillier
Fashion Week fall 2013, designer Monique Lhuillier
Designer Monique Lhuillier. Photo by © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Monique Lhuillier spring 2016 collection Look 33
Monique Lhuillier bridesmaids gowns
Monique Lhuillier spring 2016 collection Look 25
Fashion Week fall 2013, designer Monique Lhuillier

Monique Lhuillier is in a happy mood, and it's reflected in her colorful spring collection and her attitude about fashion. While in Texas recently as the featured designer for the Catwalk for a Cure gala in Houston, Lhuillier talked about why she's in such a good place as her brand gets ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

We also with her about new ways women are dressing for evening and why her bridal line continues to be so popular.

CultureMap: Your spring collection is so colorful. Are you in a happy mood? It sure seems that way.

Monique Lhuillier: You can say I'm happy. I wake up every day and I'm filled with gratitude because I love what I do. Sometimes I look at my calendar and I scream a little bit and then I regroup. If you are organized, you can get it done. 

CM: What were your thoughts in creating this collection?

ML: It still has the signature, like my elegance and refined-ness, but I wanted it to feel a little sleeker and more modern. I did that by the pops of color; also, the silhouettes I chose are a little closer to the body. There are hardly any voluminous gowns. I stripped all the corsetry out. And there is more contrast of colors.

CM: I particularly liked the cobalt blue top and cigarette pants.

ML: I am pushing more options for evening. I don't think it's always about a gown anymore. I think evening separates, doing a great trouser with a top, that's the way people dress now for evening. They can wear a cocktail dress, a great shoe. It's about mixing it up. They want more options, and that's what I'm doing.

CM: Bridal is very strong for you. How to you keep that fresh, particularly when you are doing ready to wear and so many other things?

ML: You know, bridal was my start, and I never forget that. It really taught me how to cut for a woman's body, because everything had to be so flattering and close to the body. And I even learned to draw a perfect corset, so I started there.

I've kept it fresh even after all these years because I don't think about bridal all year long. I do the accessories, I'm into the ready-to-wear-collections, other collections that I do. So I only focus on bridal like two months before my show is out.

It comes to me quite easily. I have a vision and I execute. It's not a drawn-out process, and I think that's how come it feels very fresh and very on point. And when I approach bridal, it feels new to me.

If I only did bridal, it would not be as much fun.

CM: What are the new trends in bridal?

ML: I think our brides love separates. They like slimmer silhouettes and overskirts, so they can have two looks for one night. Also, slits. Women are feeling very confident about their bodies. They take care of themselves, they lead healthier lifestyles, so they want to feel sexy on their wedding day.

They also are trying some subtle color. Women are not afraid of that anymore, so you might see a blush pink, mint greens, and pistachio greens in my collections.

And long sleeves are making a comeback. I've been showing them for a while, but I feel like the trend has finally kicked in. And it's doing it in a very delicate way so you still see the silhouette underneath, but the sheer long sleeves is new again. I love it because it's traditional with a twist.

CM: In Hollywood, you have a lot of celebrity brides.

ML: They are great brand ambassadors. I really am filled with gratitude. That they have lots to choose from and they continually support me is wonderful.

CM: How do you stay in such good shape? You look fantastic.

ML: I do yoga and I work out and I try to get enough sleep. I realize it's important to take time for yourself. To be able to think clearly and to be creative in design, you have to be in a happy place. And you have to take care of yourself first. Or else all of my collections would be dark and dreary and uninspired.

CM: What's next for you?

ML: We are really invested in our shoes and handbags. I have been designing them nonstop for the last year and a half, but they only launched now in the fall. And we're also launching eyewear soon, because I really believe in accessories.

People dress high-low now, and I think that's great, like a pretty top with jeans. I think killer accessories are key.

CM: What's been the reaction?

ML: It's been really great, except they want to see it expand more. So now it's not only evening, but it will have a day component. And the shoes will have flats. It's about dressing from day to evening, not only evening.

Hopefully down the line we'd like to open more stores, and I'd like to launch a fragrance. That's always been a topic of discussion, and a collaboration I'll be announcing in a month. It's very exciting.