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Q&A With Bridal Gown Designer Monique Lhuillier

The designer offers her invaluable industry experience ahead of her upcoming trunk show.

By Valeria Boucas Monique Lhuillier poses with her spring 2015 designs. Photograph courtesy of Dan Lecca Photography NYC.

LA-based designer Monique Lhuillier has been creating ethereal gowns since the late 1990s. Best known for her bridal collections, the Filipino designer has produced a stunning spring 2015 lineup that you can get your hands on for a discounted price. Beginning August 21, Carine’s Bridal Atelier hosts a Monique Lhuillier trunk show at its Georgetown store, and to kick off the event, Lhuillier shared her industry knowledge with us. 

What is the first thing you consider when you design a gown?

When it comes to my wedding designs, I take three things into consideration: I always design with a woman’s shape in mind and try to accentuate the female figure. It’s important to play up a bride’s assets and camouflage any challenging areas. Second, luxurious construction is very important to me; a wedding dress is an investment piece. I always want the bride 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. Finally, 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.

How do you feel bridal has changed since you started designing?

Now a bride has so many options to cater to her individual style, so I design various styles for many different brides while still keeping to my brand aesthetic. Whether it is shorter hemlines, nontraditional colors, or dresses with back interest, brides want to feel beautiful on their wedding day, and “beautiful” takes on a different meaning for each of my brides. Technology has also played a huge part in the ever-changing landscape of bridal; now a bride has so many resources to find her dress and plan her wedding.

How do you feel your own line has changed since you started designing?

It has grown tremendously because I am catering to a much wider audience. In addition to my Monique Lhuillier Bridal Collection, I launched a diffusion line, BLISS Monique Lhuillier, a collection of romantic dresses that embody my signature design aesthetic at an accessible bridal point. Also for my brides who feel less is more, I have a line of short dresses in signature laces and jacquards called Ready to Wed. I wanted to create a line for the bride who is spontaneous and wants the simplicity of purchasing a dress off the rack.

What was your inspiration for the new collection?

For spring 2015, I was inspired by an ethereal daydream. I wanted to showcase my gowns through a tableau vivant, “a living picture,” where the gowns looked like they walked out of a portrait. Each dress has an ethereal yet regal feel. I used fabrications like tulle, silk, satin, organza, and signature Chantilly lace infused with delicate embroidery and intricate beading to create a dreamy, alluring vision.

What made you choose mint as your feature color for the season?

I think introducing color to a wedding dress can be quite enchanting for a bride who is looking for something nontraditional. Neutrals are a safe way to play with color and tend to look beautiful on all skin colors. Mint is a great shade for brides who don’t like bright white; it is quite subtle. 

Some brides feel the venue determines the gown. Do you agree with this, or should brides wear whatever they want?

I think a bride has to be reasonable. Being outdoors can limit you as a bride when you decide to wear a voluminous tulle ball gown. The last thing you want is feeling hot or uncomfortable at your wedding reception. There are so many options out there that I think a bride can find a beautiful dress that takes into account her venue location.

What is the number one piece of advice you would give a bride?

I always tell brides to follow their instinct throughout the wedding dress experience, but I encourage them to always keep an open mind in selecting their dress. Many dresses look one way on a hanger or in a picture, but it is important for a bride to try on a few styles to see which she feels the most comfortable and beautiful in. Also have fun and savor every moment. This is an experience a bride will treasure for a lifetime.

How do you design a gown for someone you know personally rather than brides in general? I know you just designed for your mom’s anniversary. 

It is incredibly special to design a gown for someone you know. You want them to feel beautiful, confident, and, most of all, true to their personal style. I had the honor of designing my mother’s gown for her 50th anniversary, and it was such an incredible experience. We started designing the dress around a year ago. We actually pulled out her wedding gown from 48 years ago, which was in amazing shape, and knew we had to use elements of it. I took the dress’s lace and designed a new gown with a slim silhouette and long sleeves. The original lace was transformed into a detachable train that started from the waist. In honor of my parents’ golden anniversary, I topped the dress off with a beaded antique gold overlay that covered the entire outfit; then I added subtle bead detailing on the shoulders and sleeves, which trickled down her waist and the sides of the skirt as well as the train. My mother looked absolutely amazing, and I was so proud to have been a part of this very momentous occasion.

The Monique Lhuillier trunk show will be held August 21 through 23 by appointment only. Call 202 965-4696 or e-mail info@carinesbridal.com for availability. 

Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

Where & When

Bridal Where and When: August 8 to September 27

A schedule of trunk shows, and sample sales to expect this month and next.

By Valeria Boucas Photograph courtesy of Hitched Bridal Couture.

August 8-9: Oscar de la Renta, Reem Acra, Vera Wang, Peter Langer & J.Mendel Sample Sale

You can scoop up big-name bridal brands at Bridal Salon at Saks Jandel for a whopping 60 percent off, and that’s just the starting sale price. In addition to gowns, veils and other accessories will also be available for purchase. 

August 21-23: Monique Lhuillier Trunk Show 

Shop spring 2015 styles at Carine’s Bridal Atelier, but don’t forget to make an appointment first. Call 202-965-4696 to schedule your time slot and you’ll be able to browse the latest collection from the designer, plus favorites from past seasons. 

August 29-31: Casablanca Trunk Show 

Head to Ellie’s Bridal Boutique to shop a limited amount of gowns available this weekend only. Guests can also take 10 percent off any Casablanca gowns that will be in-store after the weekend. 

September 4-6: Rivini Trunk Show

Be one of the first at Carine’s Bridal Atelier so you don’t miss out on the 12-percent discount. Last-minute shoppers can also take advantage of the sale with 10 percent off on Saturday.

September 19-20: Anna Maier Trunk Show

Enjoy a free muslin with any made-to-measure gown purchase at Hitched. As a special bonus, the boutique will offer Maier’s evening collection for mothers or guests in search of a dress for a formal event. 

September 19-21: Pronovias Trunk Show

For this weekend only, Love Couture Bridal will have a selection of gowns the store doesn’t normally carry. The salon offers 10 percent off on any re-order. 

September 25-27: Jenny Packham Trunk Show

Spring 2015 is in full bloom everywhere, and Rizik’s is no exception. Snatch a super sale from UK-based bridal designer Jenny Packham. 

Have bridal events, sample sales, or trunk shows coming up this fall? Let us know at realweddings@washingtonian.com for a chance to be featured in the next Where and When.

Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.

Where & When

Event Alert: Book Hill Says I Do

A two-day showcase to help you plan your dream wedding.

By Jordan Muto

Whether you’re just starting to plan or have everything but the last-minute details nailed down for your special day, you’ll find helpful resources at Book Hill Says I Do on April 4 and 5. The neighborhood in Georgetown hosts a two-day event to help get brides, grooms, and their guests get prepared to get hitched.

Vendors will be on hand to aid you in making decisions, from selecting invitations at Dandelion Patch to picking the perfect dress at Lovely. Brides can visit Salon Ilo for hair and makeup suggestions, Patisserie Poupon and Macaron Bee for cake and dessert tastings, and Bacchus Wine Cellar for beverage samples. 

Be sure to check in at either Urban Chic or Sherman Pickey during the event to receive a gift bag with special offers. Participating stores will offer discounts, as well as gifts with purchase. Register for the Bridal Bliss raffle to be eligible to win a prize from participating stores.

No RSVP necessary. April 4 and 5, Book Hill neighborhood, Wisconsin Ave., NW.

Wedding News

Update: BHLDN Will Open on April 11

Anthropologie’s bridal shop-in-shop will carry wedding and bridesmaid gowns and accessories.

By Irina Grechko Photograph by Katie Pritchard.

Last month we announced that BHLDN will open a shop-in-shop location in Georgetown’s Anthropologie space this spring. We’re now pleased to learn that Washington brides will be able to shop the bohemian wedding designs as early as April 11, when the location is set to open.

The bridal boutique will carry the brand’s full assortment of wedding gowns, reception dresses, and attire for bridesmaids, as well as an edited assortment of jewelry and accessories. As at all other BHLDN outposts, brides will be able to schedule complimentary one-on-one shopping consultations with the label’s stylists.

“We’ve been delighted by the warm responses we’ve received upon learning about the shop-in-shop opening in Georgetown this spring,” said Nicole Sewall, BHLDN’s managing director, in a press release. “We knew the DC area would be a great market for BHLDN, and it’s nice to know the brides are just excited as we are.”

BHLDN at Anthropologie will open at 10 AM on April 11 at 3222 M St., NW; 202-337-1363.

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