Her own wedding is what sparked her interest in bridal fashion.
"Twenty years ago I was 21, engaged, shopping for the dress of my dreams—and very frustrated," Lhuillier says. "Everything was just so traditional. I finally found a Ron LoVece gown I liked, but that search planted a seed."
Her first gown had a mini cult following when it became available in 1995.
"After my wedding, I took what I'd learned in fashion-design school and created my first gown, the "Laura": a simple spaghetti-strap dress that is still a best seller."
She and her husband are partners in more than just marriage.
"Within a year, my husband, Tom, had stepped in as manager, and even though we had zero experience, it became a great partnership," Lhuillier says. "We are able to be great business people during the week, and then we are known to be great parents at home. And I think that when you are so in it together like Tom and I are, it is that strength that layers, that you know you have each other's back. Maybe my strength is his weakness and my weakness is his strength; we balance each other out."
But the couple has a rule.
"After like ten o'clock we do not talk about business anymore," Lhuillier says. "It stays there, we do that and it's that level of trust that we both have each other's back. I can't express how wonderful that is to have that in your life. And that's how we're celebrating twenty years, like Martha Stewart Weddings is!"
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She cried when her daughter was born.
"I did cry a little bit because I have a son who's eight and now I have a daughter. I was like, 'Oh my god, one day I'm going to make her wedding dress,'" Lhuillier says of holding her now five-year-old daughter for the first time. "I got emotional because it's a very important and emotional time in one's life and to have your mom design your own wedding dress. I mean, I think that's going to be very special, so she better not elope, yet. We don't have to worry about that soon."
We featured a real bride in Monique Lhuillier ten years ago.
"In 2005, Martha Stewart Weddings first showed a real bride wearing one of my designs, the 'Calista,' and that was a turning point for the business," Lhuillier says. "Over the years I've added ideas, incorporating more lightness and lace cutouts, some low-back detailing, deep V-necklines, and color."
She credits the Internet for much of the evolution of bridal.
"Brides have evolved, too, partly because the Internet and social media have opened the door to endless design options," Lhuillier says. "Two decades ago a bride was basically limited to what was available in local boutiques. Now she can see a dress online and have it shipped to her the next day; that, in turn, challenges designers to be more creative. Today, you'll see brides choosing fashion-forward silhouettes, different hues, shorter lengths, even jumpsuits, and customizing their look to express their individual style. They're not afraid to take risks, and Tom and I can vouch for the rewards of doing that!"
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