Interview With: Monique Lhuillier
What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
From a very young age, fashion was engrained in me and always part of my life. Growing up in the Philippines, my mother was my greatest source of fashion inspiration. She was the epitome of elegance and I was constantly in awe of her style. I was particularly inspired by the most feminine and glamorous dresses. My love for fashion developed throughout the years and I knew I had to make it my profession. I chose to move to Los Angeles since my three other siblings were in University there and attended the prestigious Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising. I started my business because I saw a void in the marketplace for fashion-forward wedding dresses when I was looking for my actual wedding dress. After my wedding I couldn’t shake that there was a business opportunity there. My husband and I rolled in a rack of dresses for a few buyers and editors in 1996 and the rest is history.
"The woman I design for is strong and elegant, she exudes style and sophistication. This woman appreciates the glamour and luxe detailing in my collections..."
Did you have a particular style muse when you were growing up?
Grace Kelly is one of my fashion style icons. She is absolutely timeless and makes even the simplest of fashions look effortlessly glamorous.
Do you ever design with a certain woman in mind?
The woman I design for is strong and elegant, she exudes style and sophistication. This woman appreciates the glamour and luxe detailing in my collections and she simply wants to feel beautiful for whatever occasion she is dressing for.
You're known for your stunning, fairytale-esque gowns - where do you get your inspiration?
I am a very visual person and inspired by so many things. I design in a 3D way. The design process simply starts from a single piece of inspiration; whether it is a beautiful piece of fabric, inspiring piece of art or a bold colour, the creative process can only start from something that visually appeals to me. Instead of sketching I drape fabric on a bust form, cut muslin on body. I am very hands-on when it comes to designing. I always design with a woman’s shape in mind and try to accentuate the female figure. Secondly, luxurious construction is very important to me, a wedding dress or an evening gown is an investment piece. I always want my customer to know that her dress is beautifully constructed and that we use the very best fabrication and pay meticulous attention to detail with her in mind. Specifically for my bridal collection, I think it is important for a wedding gown to have an element of fantasy. My dresses always have some type of ethereal element making the bride look like she’s floating down the aisle.
What's your most favourite wardrobe item?
My go-to spring staple is the jumpsuit. It is elongating and effortless. I can transform my look from day to night with a switch of accessories and layering pieces, like a blazer for work and strappy heels for night.
What are your style tips for AW14?
I reinterpreted lace in a more modern graphic way this Fall. My favourite look in my collection is my noir/nude long sleeve midi dress. It is strong, subtly sexy and dramatic. My customers will have a few embroidered mini cocktail dresses to choose from for AW14 event dressing. Elegant embroidery and geometric guipere lace are some of the design details you will find in my new season collection. I also used my signature lace on a more structured shoe silhouette - equal parts romantic and bold.