Photos: John Aquino
If a bridal designer declares that "romance and extravagance are back," one hopes that said bridal designer is Monique Lhuillier. Too much romance and extravagance (or poorly executed versions of) can easily descend into bathos, and in bridal, this often means aspirin-white polysatin heaped with synthetic lace and an absurd amount of crystal
beading. But if Monique says her new collection is all about romance and extravagance, you just know the gowns are going to be a lot more palatable. And the timing feels right: Now that her more fairly-priced collection, Bliss, is comprised of classic, feminine silhouettes with a just dash of frilly embellishment, the designer is obviously basking in the creative possibilities that exist in couture.
This season, Monique delivered on the promise of a collection that is unabashedly baroque. Yet, the gowns are tempered by an innate understanding of where to embellish and where to let the organza or lace stand alone (e.g. her signature lace sheaths, of which there were three variations—clearly brides have yet to tire of the look that put Monique Lhuillier on the map).The music playing helped immerse the crowd in an atmosphere of romance—I mistook it for a Chopin nocturne, but it soon became clear that we were listening to Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" reinvented as a lush, swirling composition for the piano by Maxence Cyrin. And the first look reflected a similar modern/whimsical fusion: A tea-length dress in the faintest pink hue; I liked the odd combination of a decidedly androgynous model rocking a Chantilly lace corset bodice (the first of many, we would observe, as the show progressed).
Collectively, the gowns were a fantasia on flower petals, light-as-air organza, tulle, and Chantilly lace, and delicate embroidery. A few standouts included two gowns of ivory-streaked-with-mocha "techno taffeta" which was reminiscent of (but not quite as jaw-dropping as) the graphic red rose-print fabric used to create one of the most memorable gowns in her Spring 2011 eveningwear collection. Speaking of ready-to-wear, several of our "Does This Come In White?" Monique Lhuillier wishes came true, including Nightingale, a fairy princess-worthy tulle gown embellished with "stardust." And doesn't the neckline on Starlight look familiar? —Amy Elliott
Browse all of the wedding dresses in the new Monique Lhuillier collection here.