Monique’s forecast: Bold colors, sporty edge

Monique Lhuillier unveils 2012 collection during Fashion Week. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

Celebrities Julianne Hough, Mandy Moore and LeAnn Rimes cheered Monique Lhuillier’s Fashion Week show as her elegant wearables rotated as if in a carousel at the Lincoln Center runway on September 10.

Her clothes are “so feminine,” cooed Rimes. “I’m always out to support her.”

Monique, one of the most recognizable FilAm fashion designers, said she is honored every time a celebrity chooses to wear her clothes.

“As you know celebrities have a choice of what they want to wear in the world. When they continuously come to me, it kinda validates what I do,” she told reporters.

After the show, she spoke to a queue of journalists, including The FilAm, about what participating in FW means to her.

“I love showing my work in the New York Fashion Week because it’s the place where I unveil my collection for the whole world to see,” she said of her Spring 2012 forecast. “Everybody comes here and covers it for the whole world.”

Monique counts Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Catherine Zeta-Jones among her Hollywood clientele. Last year, she was hoping to be considered for designing the bridal gown of Kate Middleton.

“I would have loved to make Kate Middleton’s dress, that’s in my wish list last year,” she said.

Mounting a NYFW show is no cakewalk for this Philippine-born designer who comes from a prominent family in Cebu. Although she’s been around since 1996 when her bridal wear caught the eye of retailers and fashion editors, she finds the process as involved and probably as meticulous as the ornate stitching of a glamorous Lhuillier evening gown.

“It takes three and a half months to mount a Fashion Week collection,” she said. “I started the process by choosing fabrics and deciding what the color stories are gonna be. I look for my inspiration thinking about what’s the big picture and what’s the feeling of the season and then cutting the fabrics, draping it.”

More than 40 models strutted the runway in Monique’s cocktail dresses and gowns that scream “bold saturated colors with a sporty, athletic edge.”

“With women more into fitness and healthy lifestyles, I compliment their physique using intricate seaming to outline the body,” she further explained. “The use of color blocking accents of leather add an unexpected edge.”

For her evening wear, the style is “all about sexy silhouettes, open backs, cutouts with lace insets, and graphic prints infused with cadmium yellow and cobalt blue.”

A week before her show, it’s been “lots of sleepless nights” for Monique and her staff. “But it’s all worth it because it’s like giving birth to a project that you’re working on so hard for the last three months and now finally letting it out, letting it shine — it’s a good feeling,” she said.

Monique: It's a good feeling.

In response to those critics who carp that NYFW has lost its edge, Monique said, “I kind of beat to my own drum, and when I come to New York to have a show I do what I do for me and what makes me happy. I will go on whether they like what I do or not.”

The Mercedes Benz-sponsored event – from September 9 to 15 — is not all glitz and glamour, said Mayor Mike Bloomberg. It supports more than 169,000 jobs and generates more than $9.6 billion in annual wages for the city.

“Fashion is an essential part of our economy, and a field of great promise for our city’s aspiring designers, buyers and retailers,” he said in a statement.

Monique couldn’t agree more.

“Fashion is really one of the big businesses out of New York City, so it’s so nice to be embraced and given a whole week of attention to all of us designers. It’s amazing to get that support,” she said.

Elton Lugay is a journalist, publicist and community events organizer

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