Skip to content

Monique Lhuillier: Profile of a Couture Wedding Gown Designer

Fashion designer Monique Lhuillier arrives at the Mack, Jack, McConaughey charity gala

Photo: Getty Images

Though today her brand is famous for its celebrity following, Monique Lhuillier’s couture wedding gowns are designed to make real women feel stunning.

The designer has the rare ability to convey both timelessness and modernity in her gowns, seamlessly combining well-worn traditions with fresh touches which brides worldwide find irresistible.

Since opening her business 3 decades ago, Lhuillier’s designs have only grown in popularity and with good reason. Read on to learn more about her and to find out just what’s so special about her bridal collections.

A Brief Biography

The glamour behind Monique Lhuillier’s couture wedding gowns doesn’t just lie in lushly romantic cuts, luxe fabrics, and careful detailing. It’s also to be found in the designer’s worldly background.

Lhuillier is the daughter of former model Amparito Llamas and Vietnamese-born entrepreneur Michel Lhuillier and spent her early years in the Philippines. The designer has expressed that her early love of fashion emerged from observing her elegant mother.

When she was small, her mother sewed and designed the children’s clothes. As Lhullier grew older, local seamstresses created them for her. In her early teens, she began sketching designs together with these creators, thus further entrenching her love for and deep understanding of fashion design and dress structure.

From an early age, Monique Lhuillier was drawn to formalwear, and this focus continued into her days at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Yet it wasn’t until she began to plan her own wedding that the seed of the brand was sown.

A young bride-to-be at 21 years old, Monique Lhuillier unsurprisingly was on the lookout for something fresh and modern for her wedding day. It should have been easy to find what she was looking for, but the options available were much too stuffy and conservative for her sophisticated taste.

Though she found a gown in the end, it was the search for the perfect dress that sparked her desire to specialize in wedding couture. To her surprise, Lhuillier discovered just how significant the wedding industry was and that it was a field where she could make her mark.

It was in the mid-90s that she launched her business quite humbly from her home in Malibu. Lhuillier admits that she jumped boldly into the industry with a line of 5 gowns and without a business plan. Yet, she quickly got serious, setting up an office with a group of trusted seamstresses and promoting designs to wedding dress boutiques.

By 2001, she opened her first Beverly Hills shop. Amazingly, Lhuillier had no public relations strategy in place, yet celebrity stylists started reaching out. In 2004, her designs popped up at the Emmys, Britney Spears hired her in secret to design her wedding dress, and in 2005 Martha Stewart Weddings launched her into the big-time with a feature including her wedding designs.

Celebrities including First Lady Michelle Obama, A-list actors Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Emma Stone, as well as musicians Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift have all worn her stunning designs.

Michelle Obama has sported them over and over, including to important events such as a visit to Pope Francis and the White House Correspondents’ dinner. The first time Gwyneth Paltrow wore Monique Lhuillier was in 2010, donning a svelte corseted white number with a cutout design and a scallop-edged bottom. It was far from the last time she would chose the designer. Reese Witherspoon is a regular too, wearing a blush pink wedding gown to her ceremony in 2011, though perhaps her most famous outfit from the designer was a black and white lace long-sleeved dress dotted with 3-D butterflies. In Taylor Swift’s new music video for the single “Me,” she sported a black and white mid-calf Lhuillier party dress with a scattered multi-colored floral design.

In addition to her celebrity endorsements, Lhuillier is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Philippines’ Presidential Medal of Merit as well as a membership in the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Monique Lhuillier’s Design Inspiration

The designer’s spring 2020 bridal collection has an unusual inspiration: Italian gardens. Lhuillier set out to create designs which, like the gardens of Italy, are based in traditional design but retain an element of ever-present freshness. Though she’s tapped into the current trend of reaching into the past for wedding design concepts, she’s also utilizing fresh new trends like using color in wedding gowns. For Lhuiller’s current collection, that color focus is centered on shades of green.

Monique Lhuillier’s spring 2019 bridal collection, however, had a much more timely inspiration: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s nuptials. For this season, she was thinking royal, with all the pomp and splendor of a wedding fit for a princess, but with the elegant simplicity Markle is known for. More traditional full skirts and mermaid silhouettes dominated the season’s wedding dresses, a striking departure from fall 2018’s white leather bridal moto jacket.

One collection from spring 2015 drew inspiration from the Edwardian era portraits of American painter John Singer Sargent. Monique Lhuillier imagined her brides seeing themselves embodying the glamour of the painter’s works – so much so that they would become “a living picture.”

The designs for these seasons seem so different, but there are certain threads that are ever-present in Lhuillier’s gowns. As the designer puts it, the brand is all about “beauty, femininity, and really making a woman feel beautiful to be in the clothes.” Her designs hinge on the glamour she inherited from her mother with the sophistication she brings from decades of designing.

With a vision like that, it’s no wonder she’s found such success.

Closing Thoughts

Couture wedding gowns like Lhuillier’s are beyond precious. The designer’s dresses are heirloom treasures to be passed on through the generations.

The amount of time, care, consideration, and creativity that go into a Monique Lhuillier wedding dresses are priceless. If you are lucky enough to have one, it’s your duty to care for it to the best of your ability.

At Janet Davis Cleaners, we specialize in cleaning, steaming, and preserving couture wedding gowns with the utmost care. With over 60 years of experience, we have the expertise needed to handle your high-end dress.

Visit Janet Davis Cleaners to learn more or call us today at 248-543-0340. We can’t wait to help make your wedding day just magical.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *