Lunching at the center of the Monique Lhuillier universe

Monique Lhuillier luncheon celebrates the arrival of her pre-fall collection

Everything in Los Angeles designer Monique Lhuillier’s brand universe came together Tuesday afternoon, when she hosted a luncheon at her Melrose Place store to celebrate the arrival of her pre-fall collection.

Ahna O’Reilly, Louise Roe, Ashley Madekwe, Maria Bell, Crystal Lourd, Sally Perrin, Alexandra Von Furstenberg, Mary Alice Haney, Marlien Rentmeester and others gathered outside on the sidewalk, under pink and orange parasols, to watch Lhuillier unveil her new pre-fall window display.

Then, after the big reveal, lunch was served inside, with Lhuillier’s colorful gowns as a backdrop.

Above the tables was one of the designer’s Monique Lhuillier for Waterford chandeliers. Guests ate off her Waterford dinner plates, with her elegant silver flatware, and snapped photos of the centerpieces: her favorite pink peonies nestled into Waterford crystal vases.

“I realized I hadn’t done an event at my store since we opened 7 years ago,” said Lhuillier, who launched her bridal wear collection in 1996. Her wedding gowns quickly became a celebrity favorite, worn by everyone from Britney Spears to Reese Witherspoon. Since then, the designer has expanded into ready-to-wear, shoes, table top, fine jewelry, stationary and more, creating a Monique Lhuillier lifestyle to rival Vera Wang’s.

In recent years, Lhuillier’s evening gowns have become a Hollywood go-to; Cheryl Cole just wore one of the designer's sweeping black gowns in Cannes. And Lupita Nyong’o, appearing in one of People magazine’s promos for its "Most Beautiful" issue, wore the same pink-and-orange Lhuillier gown that Leslie Mann wore to the premiere of “The Other Woman.”

Lhuillier is now focusing more on daywear, including the ladylike pink-and-orange-lace polo shirts with beaded collars and lace pencil skirts hanging on the racks.

Over lunch, guests chatted about summer destinations -- Napa Valley, dude ranches in Montana, Capri -- and the desire to take a luxe Winnebago adventure. Lhuillier’ said her plans include returning to her native Philippines, where her parents will be celebrating their 50thwedding anniversary by renewing their vows. Naturally, the designer is making all the dresses.

After the main course, some of Lhuillier’s friends stood up to make toasts, wedding-style.

“You make the most beautiful things,” said stylist Jane Ross, raising a glass. “You have the most beautiful family, and you are so beautiful. We’re all honored to be here.”

Bui Simon, a former Miss Universe who in 2002 founded the Angels Without Wings Foundation and has known Lhuillier since her college days, chimed in: “We are all in awe of you. You have the biggest vision and you know how to execute it.”

Lhuillier seemed overwhelmed by the love and support, but no sooner had the plates been cleared, she encouraged everyone to get up and get on with it: “Go on, go shop!”


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