Floaty gowns in pretty macaron pastels, embroidered-over sequined column dresses, and peony and wildflower prints, all gathered together at an 18th-century château just outside of Paris: Sounds like a fairly typical Monique Lhuillier outing, right? Look again. Change is afoot as the designer focuses on separates alongside occasion dressing. As Lhuillier put it: “I embraced the femininity that I do every season, but there are a lot of new elements in this collection. I feel like it is more versatile than in the past.” And how. A cropped white cardigan with hammered-gold buttons worn over a fit-and-flare dress of powder pink caviar lace transformed the model into a latter-day C. Z. Guest. The designer said a black column with an apron that opened in front represented “my modern-day Audrey [Hepburn].”
Nostalgia has a certain appeal, but it was of-the-moment looks that elicited the wows. Let’s start with the knits: A sturdy stretch material was used for a flirty, ruffled one-shoulder number, and cashmere was utilized for a very Barbie-friendly ensemble with wonderful proportions, featuring a higher-waist pencil skirt that met the button of a cropped bralette topped by an abbreviated cardi. Next to these formfitting knits, the tweed options for day felt wishy-washy, not quite soft or structured enough.
The separates idea carried over into evening quite successfully. There was a scuba-like top in black sequins of an incredible gloss that could be worn alternatively with a ball skirt or a trumpet-hem knit skirt. The midriff silhouette was also used for a three-piece evening look consisting of a regal train skirt, sleeves attached to a band of fabric under the bust, and a gossamer diamanté bra, light as a breath of air. That same piece was layered under a bodysuit of the same material, to which was added a detachable white collar and black bow. A black bias-cut slip skirt completed this seductive look, an encapsulation of Parisienne sophistication and glamour.