The Monique Lhuillier store opening was held at 19 East 71st on the first two floors of a beautiful townhouse. Diane Monique Lhuillier, 41, is a high end New York fashion designer most well known for her bridal wear. She launched her first bridal collection in 1996 to great acclaim and has since then expanded her collections to include ready-to-wear, evening gowns, bridal lines, tableware, fine paper and home fragrances. In 2003 Monique Lhuillier was invited to be a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and in 2006 she received the Medal of Honor from the Philippine president. I have attended many of her fashion shows held at the tents for fashion week and was excitedly anticipating this store opening. However, what I didn't anticipate was the pride I would feel in being a woman at the conclusion of this festive night.
The store was magnificent. The gray carpeting, the winding stairs, the square blocked mirrors and festooned chandeliers were breathtaking. The dressing rooms were so lavish I almost mistook them for an entertainment space (the flat screen television did not help). Monique, a dimunitive yet beautiful woman, shone in her elegant Lhuillier gold dress. The crowd was a mixture of socialites, upper east siders, models and fashionistas. There were wedding cupcakes, savory drinks and a fantastic dj throughout the evening. The clothing was exquisite. The bottom floor had couture and ready-to-wear dresses and the second floor was dedicated solely to wedding gowns. Every detail in the store was perfection.
|Publicist Peggy Siegal|
However, it was the guest list that made this event uniquely satisfying to the most important shopping customer, the women of the world. Jean Shafiroff, a socialite and philanthropist, who co-chairs more than twelve charity boards was in love with the clothing which she called, "fresh and fantastic." She was also pleased that this event was in support of the botanical gardens charity. Peggy Siegal, a publicist in Hollywood for the past four decades, was on a "reconaissance mission" to find clothing for her next red carpet event. Peggy Siegal, referencing her recent Bazaar magazine article, said she agreed to be interviewed in order to "combat the rampant age and sex discrimination in our society and the media. I want woman to feel empowered, to show them that if you take care of yourself age is irrelevant."
|Kimberly Guilfoyle of Fox News|
At Siegal's 60th birthday party she gave out a list of the thirty doctors who help her maintain her ageless appearance. Siegal then told me of how important it was to be well groomed in any industry stating, "it is imperative for a woman to be well groomed in the workforce. My mother taught me that first impressions count. My mother and grandmother would go to the airport in a Chanel suit. If you look like the help you get treated like the help." Siegal, who herself started off as a fashion and accessories designer, said that Lhuilliers's clothing were "show stoppers. They are made with gorgeous fabrics in the categories of works of art like Vera Wang and Marchesa. They are great fashion statements however, you need a lot of confidence to wear them." Her message of empowerment to women was echoed throughout the evening. Kimberly Guilfoyle, co-host of a Fox News program, said that Lhuillier's designs were her "go to" dresses for black tie affairs. I feel amazing in her designs and as a woman in the news industry that feeling is immeasurable. Even her cocktail dresses are splendid."
As the evening came to a close and the guests slowly exited Monique summed up the entire evening and the thought behind her designs succinctly and meaningfully. She stated, "I am so excited to have my first store in New York that houses my entire collection under one roof. My motto is women designing for women. My clothing is all about making a woman look and feel like a million bucks. I try to highlight a woman in the most flattering light possible and hide her imperfections with a flattering cut. Once again I am all about women and enhancing them."
The message of the evening for me was that yes Lhuillier's pieces are beautiful, truly the store is magnificent and certainly there are many beautiful women in Manhattan. However, the most important thing about this store is that it is paradigmatic of the new woman in the 21st century- women in positions of power who are utilizing their power to embolden other women to succeed in the workforce through the medium of fashion. The power of fashion is that it enables women to spread their talents and abilities throughout society by equipping them with sartorial tools reflective of their confidence and ability. Clothing and fashion, while sometimes appearing trivial, is actually, as echoed by Siegal and Lhuillier, a potent and powerful way for women to influence their environment thereby laying the groundwork for them to change and beautify society.
- Lieba Nesis