story by Lisa Radano
photos by udor
Often when a designer’s name, and more to the point a woman designer’s name, is made in bridalwear, the dear promise that was respectfully made between artist and subject is carried on at ready to wear and kept fast: I will not let you down, I will never let you look a fool, I know that today is your day, I know one picture lasts a lifetime. It’s therefore no wonder then that Monique Lhuillier has triumphed at the particular business of red carpet glamour. She understands what it means to dress the woman in focus. With all eyes and cameras pointed at her, Lhuillier’s woman does not “…want to take a risk at such an important time. That’s why simple silhouettes are best. Women are more comfortable taking a chance on color or treatment.” This wise formula is in play on her Fall 2013 runway, and will work wonders at award shows, film openings, charity balls, and any gala event where a woman must make being on display look gracefully easy.
A few, if disparate, inspirations cited in her letter to us all were geology, Art Deco, feathers and butterflies. The show began with a range of cable knits in winter white, accented by silvery pale furs, and made into separates or gowns; one of them floor length with an open back. Along the way came feathers as printed onto silk crepe and done up as cigarette pants, dresses, and strapless columns. Opulent jewel tones were heralded when a malachite green fur vest came out over black silk pants. This color, found in a rock the designer discovered, was the touchstone for the show, and provided the stage backdrop. A long sleeve dress in malachite feather patterned lace was just the first of many signature lace gowns shown.
Lhuillier spoke about the painstaking process of creating her beloved lace, each dress taking anywhere from two to six hundred hours. As the eveningwear progressed, and her promise dispensed – simple shapes gave the grounding to adventurous color and treatment of fabric. Art Deco embroidery made several towering gowns seem like the Empire State building. Gold brocade, often bulky, stuffy and difficult to photograph, was made to seem weightless and fresh. Radiating gold embroidery on black tulle strapless looked like geometric fireworks. Malachite and Amaranth silk gowns had gently, almost organic draping at the knees and along the back hems. Flapper fringe turned up on shoulders, sleeves and skirts.
In dizzying all, Ms. Lhuillier’s promise was aptly kept, yet she still managed a few fashion forward choices, just to keep things even. She showed a new length, saying that black tie need no longer be about gowns to the floor. She might just have wanted us to have a better look at her fabulous new range of strappy sandals and lace booties. She also offered a few ensembles based on lace cigarette pants framed by matching high in front/low in back skirting – edgy perhaps, photogenic for sure. The showstopper was a garnet chiffon endless liquid gown that poured from a cap sleeve, jeweled pewter yoke. Exquisite.
Seated beside me was a besotted gentleman, much taken with the visions before him. Trying not to break his entranced mood I leaned over and whispered, “What do you think?” Without a moment’s pause he answered, “She walks in beauty, like the night.” No doubt Lhuillier’s beauties will walk on many a night to come.