September 12, 2005
Monique Lhuillier's career has taken flight, which could be one explanation for the decorative bow-tied birdcages that hung above her runway. Following in Vera Wang's footsteps, Lhuillier's clean, pretty, bridal-tinged take on evening is gathering notice and, importantly, red-carpet-caliber customers, who will have plenty of dresses to choose from this spring. The pregnant California-based designer showed a seamless collection of them, starting with a smart white gazar cocktail number with a tuxedo-style halter and building to a showstopping taffeta gown with a voluminous hand-tufted skirt in "blue haze." A sleeker stunner was in platinum satin, with cowl detailing at the neckline. Flowing chiffon dresses had narrow jeweled belts at the waist, and a ball skirt with ribbon-embroidered flowers was topped, simply, with a necklace-beaded ivory cashmere shell. The palette was soft, and restraint was an important factor in the success of the collection. Without it, ballerina cocktail dresses dotted with caviar beads, and bodices, straps, and armholes that glittered with crystals, would have been too much. But there wasn't a mistake in the bunch.
The designer wrote in her program notes that this collection was "very emotional" for her, explaining that her expectant state has left her feeling "reflective, giddy, and passionate." Her audience seemed to have a similar reaction.