Business Is Blooming for Monique Lhuillier

As the designer opens a store in Orange County, she talks 25 years in the industry, and bridal trends for smaller celebrations

Words by JAKE HEDDAEUS

 

Fashion designer Monique Lhuillier is looking forward to life after the pandemic. As California waits for opening hours and capacity restrictions to inch closer to their pre-COVID-19 levels, this fall she is pressing on with the opening of her third and largest boutique to date at Orange County’s South Coast Plaza. Having launched her eponymous label almost 25 years ago, her proudest moments include dressing Reese Witherspoon on her wedding day and Phoebe Waller-Bridge on her triumphant Emmys night last year.

 

Designer MONIQUE LHUILLIER in her brand’s bridal salon.

 

But Lhuillier’s design acumen extends far beyond evening and occasion dressing: She also has a shoes and accessories line; ongoing collaborations with Pottery Barn for home goods; a recently launched fragrance; and, coming soon, lingerie and leisurewear — all projects which stem from Lhuillier’s cultivated world of garden fantasy and feminine sophistication.

Despite the colossal impact of the coronavirus on retail, weddings and nearly every other aspect of life, Lhuillier’s cautious optimism to grow her empire beyond its New York and Los Angeles stores at the most trying of times is an attitude we can describe as totally Californian. And we salute it.

 

“Brides are getting married in more intimate settings, but they’re still going to wear the dress of their dreams”

MONIQUE LHUILLIER

 

How did you decide on the location?
South Coast Plaza is a premier destination for luxury brands. The fact that they’re all in that same structure — it’s always been a fashion destination for a lot of people. Our biggest markets are New York and California. For us, it makes sense to have multiple stores here.

Describe the new store.
It is our largest flagship to date; everything is very luxurious, and the scale is quite grand. It’s the first time we’re going to have so many categories on display, everything from fragrance to ready-to-wear to bridal and accessories. It’s also our first time having ML, the contemporary line, available in store.

 

Feather shift dress, $4,295, and strapless tulle dress, $4,295, both from the MONIQUE LHUILLIER Fall 2020 collection.

 

How has the pandemic affected your betrothed clients?
Brides have really been determined to still have this special day. They’re getting married in more intimate settings, but they’re still going to wear the dress of their dreams. One bride had the most beautiful wedding but in a backyard. We posted it on Instagram, and I think it was one of our highest-engaged posts because it was real.

Which are your favorite bridal trends right now?
Very subtle prints. I have this floral print with butterflies and vines. People love that. They also love a sleeve. Whether it’s a billowy wedding sleeve or a long, fitted lace sleeve, my brides are really responding to that.

 

A dress, $6,995, from the MONIQUE LHUILLIER Fall 2020 collection.

 

How are you expanding beyond eveningwear and bridal?
We’re launching loungewear later this year. We’re going to have hoodies, joggers and T-shirts. In my Spring 2021 collection, it’s the first time I incorporated linen fabrics, and there’s soft Georgette.

What’s next?
A book next year for our 25th anniversary. So I’ve been going down memory lane and seeing my first collection and the beginnings until this point and all the highlights.

 

Feature image: A look from the MONIQUE LHUILLIER Spring 2021 collection.

 

This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2020 issue of C Weddings.

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