Lhuillier trades Cinderella look for daring style

SAMANTHA CRITCHELL AP Fashion Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Venture a guess on which of Monique Lhuillier's new designs will make it to the red carpet first: the feminine red lace ballgown with layers of organza that mimic feathers or the black leather-strap halter dress?

Backstage at her New York Fashion Week show on Saturday night, the designer wasn't tipping her hand, other than to say: "A lot of the pieces that you see here tonight are already on hold for the Oscars,"

Celebrity stylists had been previewing them for the past two days, she explained.

What they and the fashion editors and retailers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week saw is an almost entirely red-and-black collection that comes from Lhuillier's daring and fierce side. "It's the same Monique, like beauty and femininity is still running through, but there's unpredictability that's also more mature and new for the line, and I really pushed," she said.

In the process, Lhuillier, known for bridal gowns and eveningwear, almost eliminated her hallmark Cinderella shapes, opting for a more futuristic look a la Barbarella, the erotic science fiction character.

"Everything is long and lean. Long sleeves are in. Things are cut really close to the body," Lhuillier said.

She didn't give up beading, though, and, in fact, she seemed to employ embroidery techniques that made everything even more sparkly. The look worked best on a red T-shirt style cocktail dress.

Lhuillier used touches of fur to add luxury to the daytime looks. A black wool sheath with a front fur panel was super chic. Remember, her customers aren't typically headed to a cubicle, PTA meeting or grocery store in the morning.

Starlet Nina Dobrev is a fan of Lhuillier's, especially as she develops a wardrobe for days just like this one -- attending fashion shows. "A lot of flashing, a lot of pictures, and a lot of really, really great clothing. It's really cool," Dobrey said.

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Associated Press Writer Nicole Evatt contributed to this report.

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