It's been a busy time for Monique Lhuillier. In the last few months she has unveiled her spring 2013 collection at New York fashion week, launched a new line of shoes and opened her first New York boutique on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Even so, when Neiman Marcus asked her to show her collection in a prime spot on the last night of Fashion Houston, she jumped at the opportunity.
"I haven't visited Houston in a while, so it was a great time for me to come down," she said, backstage at the Wortham Center before the start of her show. "Women here love fashion. They love to entertain. They have a great sense of style. I really feel that Houston women know to live."
"Women here love fashion. They love to entertain. They have a great sense of style. I really feel that Houston women know to live."
Her Houston show was an exact replica of the one she presented in New York, even down to the swirly ocean backdrop, which she had shipped to Texas for the occasion. When it didn't fit the Wortham space, she insisted an alternative be found.
"It has to go up," she said. "It's part of the whole taking them into my world and into my head."
Workers took a photograph of the backdrop and projected it on the walls during the show. The collection opened with peblum tops, slacks and dresses in inky fish print fabrics and ended with a series of red carpet gowns in shades of the ocean on a sun-dappled day. Lhuillier also featured a variety of styles in turquoise shades and deep blue cocktails dresses in sparkly sequins and shiny satin.
Lhuillier came up with the idea for an aquatic theme while on a vacation to Turkey. "I looked at the seascape, it was so beautiful, the reflection of the water it was like a flash, like that," she recalled.
For this collection, she stripped away the crinoline and cut dresses close to the body. She used laser-cut techniques to create a wavy effect as gowns move and incorporated tulle, sheer and mesh fabric for a lighter, more fluid effect.
"For me, it's all about shape. It's about a leaner, longer silhouette. It just felt right to me," she said.
Lhuillier's first shoe collection, which reaches stores in January, features lacework, multiple straps and a mixture of fabrics. "A lot of elements in my gowns I incorporated in my shoes. I always wanted to do accessories and shoes were at the top of my list because I always wanted to dress my client from head-to-toe," she said.
Her flagship New York store, which is decorated with chandeliers that are part of a collection she created with Waterford, includes evening gowns and shoes downstairs and bridal gowns upstairs.
"When you walk into the store, you see the world of Monique," she said. "And that's so nice."