Talking Dreams And Dresses With Monique Lhuillier As She Celebrates Her Brand’s 25th Anniversary

by Freya Drohan

One could say it’s a busy week for Monique Lhuillier….but then again, it’s been a quarter-century of go, go, go as the designer propelled her brand to mega-watt levels of industry and commercial stardom. In the coming days, Lhuillier will present her new bridal collection with a chic gathering during New York Bridal Week, at which she will also launch BLISS; her first line of engagement rings and diamond bands with KAY Jewelers. Plus, she’s toasting her upcoming coffee table tome with Rizzoli—Monique Lhuillier: Dreaming of Fashion and Glamour—to mark her 25th anniversary! On Tuesday evening, the Asian American designer will be speaking with Fern Mallis about her career and what it was like working on the beautiful book at The Wing in Soho (deets!). Here’s how it all began…

What do you remember dreaming about as a kid?
I remember dreaming about fashion from a very young age. My mother had the most beautiful style and I have fond memories of watching her get dressed, put on her jewelry, style her hair, and do her make up. I admired how flawless she put herself together from head to toe and grew up knowing that I wanted to be designing clothes just like hers. I recall getting lost in fashion magazines, becoming obsessed with fabrics, colors, and detailing, and found great joy in putting looks together.

Was ‘fashion designer’ always the end goal?
Yes, I knew that working with clothing was my favorite part of a total “look.” I loved how creative I could be with draping, shapes, silhouettes, prints, and craftsmanship. I have always been inspired to create and designing clothes came the most natural to me.

And you are self-taught! What first inspired you to begin making clothes?
I was in my early twenties, I had just graduated from FIDM, I was engaged, and shopping for wedding gowns. I was underwhelmed with the options for brides and saw an opportunity to introduce something new to the industry. I remember
feeling very inspired by the potential and immediately knew it was the right path to take.

 

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A post shared by Monique Lhuillier (@moniquelhuillier)

You launched your brand in 1996—had you experience working at other brands before this or did you dive right in?
I worked for a small fashion brand for one year, which is where I met many of my sewers. After marrying my husband and my experience looking for the perfect wedding dress, I designed about six bridal gowns and we went for it! Starting early
and with little experience allowed me to really learn the business and the industry along the way. It has been very rewarding experience and a true adventure.

What principles is the brand founded on?
The company was founded on the principal of celebrating life. The intention is to always bring joy, beauty, elegance, and confidence into a woman’s life.

In the last 25 years, what has changed and what has stayed the same?
We have stayed true to our vision. I have never shown anything that I wasn’t completely in love with nor felt passionate about. This has been the case since the very first day of the brand and has allowed us to be very consistent with our messaging and aesthetic. What has changed is our growth and maturity—both professionally and personally. We have grown the company into a lifestyle brand across ready to wear, bridal, accessories, home, fragrance, and fine jewelry. At the same time, I am a mom to two teenagers and have become much wiser over the years.

Tell us about your new book with Rizzoli! What do we need to know?
My book with Rizzoli has been a dream come true. When I saw the first copy, I was immediately brought to tears. Creating the book was a labor of love and truly encompasses my favorite milestones of the past 25 years including weddings, showing collections at Paris and New York Fashion Weeks, dressing icons on the red carpet, and so much more. I went through countless archives, old Polaroid’s and photos…hand-selecting my favorite moments. It was an incredibly humbling experience to see what we have accomplished, the commitment and hard work, the incredible creative partners that made it
happen, and my team that has been with me for so many years.

 

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A post shared by Monique Lhuillier (@moniquelhuillier)

What’s the first thing you do every morning?
When I first wake up, I drink a cup of fresh lemon water, check my morning emails, post on social media, squeeze in a work out, and start my work day.

What’s the last thing you do every night?
I spend the last moments of my night with my family. I give my kids hugs and kisses while I can, they are teenagers and I am squeezing in as many moments as possible.

What, in fashion, always excites you and takes your breath away?
I am still moved by a gorgeous fashion editorial. I love to see what concepts and stories creative artists put together; it always amazes me what a group of artists can do together.

What are you currently working on/what else is coming up?
We just finished our FW22 bridal collection and shot the campaign in Cartagena. I am so excited about the new flavor and risks we took with this collection. I am also launching my first ever Resort collection. Travel is one of my biggest inspirations and I am excited to introduce a collection that the Monique Lhuillier woman can bring with her on her adventures. We also just launched a fine jewelry collection with KAY Jewelers, inclusive of engagement rings and wedding bands. I loved the experience of designing jewelry and incorporating my signature touches. I am so excited for brides and grooms to experience this collection!

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love the creative process itself. Coming up with a concept and seeing the idea come to life is an exhilarating experience. I continually push the process which keeps me on my toes, always curious and growing as an artist. I use this same philosophy with all the categories I design. I feel a great sense of pride and responsibility to design collections that encourage women to feel confident, beautiful, and empowered. It is what truly inspires me to create. I love making women feel the best version of themselves.

What’s one thing you would want to tell the version of you in 1996?
Trust yourself, be fearless, and go for it! Making mistakes is okay and don’t be so hard on yourself. Always stay true to your vision and don’t compromise your creativity. Have fun along the way and bring your friends along for the ride!

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