"Industrial" and "modern" are hardly the buzzwords you expect to hear from a designer whose romantic gowns regularly survive the red-carpet gauntlet, a process that tends to discourage forward-thinking looks. Still, this season, Monique Lhuillier had architecture on the brain, the result, she said, of seeing the Disney Concert Hall on a daily basis. (Frank Gehry's masterpiece neighbors her Los Angeles office.)
The designer didn't really follow through on her intentions, though. Little in the collection approached the stark quality of the brushed-steel, Gehry-esque curl hung above the runway and, in fact, Lhuillier's choice of fabrics like gold lamés and brocades played it quite rich. Still, the motif was echoed here and there in flat gold hardware and circular seaming, edged prettily in chiffon, on both plain wool coats and metallic pencil skirts. Elsewhere, boxy coats with bracelet-length sleeves gave a futuristic-by-way-of-the-sixties feel.
Lhuillier says that she wants to be known as more than a red-carpet designer, but as a series of slim gowns with jeweled belts paraded past, it was difficult to think of anything else. The sole exception to the celebrity-stylist-friendly fare was a convoluted animal-print ball gown, layered with tulle and then embroidered. A better option? A strapless number in a lovely emerald satinchic and Joan Rivers-proof.