Those of you who know me know that I had a long tenure in the world of wedding magazines. I arrived at The Knot during its infancy, when it was just a rogue startup, in 1999. At that time, Monique Lhuillier, a Los Angeles–based Filipino American gown designer with French roots, was coming into her own, and she soon became synonymous with a supremely chic and sophisticated bridal aesthetic.
Back then, the It designers were Vera Wang, Amsale, and Lhuillier, who quickly became known for a kind of formfitting but utterly tasteful and elegant gown made entirely of lace. You could throw it in a garment bag and head off to the Caribbean for your destination wedding. It fit like a glove and telegraphed a story of modern romance and femininity.
That was in 1997, and this dress became the go-to way to announce yourself, when you made your grand entrance at the ceremony, as a bride with modern tastes and unapologetic sexiness, all while nodding to tradition with French lace, maybe a tiny cap sleeve (my favorite version, often with an open back), and sweeping train.
Lhuillier never lost her footing as far as status in the world of wedding gowns. She evolved her brand to include red carpet eveningwear and couture (Awkwafina’s 2021 Emmys dress, a vision in mermaid blue organza, is just one recent example) as well as ready-to-wear, all of it very haute couture–inspired, with the most feminine prints, flounces, and flourishes.
Now, after 25 years in the bridal business, the designer has teamed up with Kay Jewelers to debut Monique Lhuillier Bliss, a collection of engagement rings and diamond bands. If you know her work, you can see her signatures in the designs—floral elements, lacy borders and filigree, and shanks that are elegantly curved and tapered, not unlike the finely constructed silhouettes of her most iconic gowns.
The new designs are scattered throughout this post. Below, a recap of my conversation with the designer on Bliss, the evolution of today’s bridal consumer, and more.
JCK: You are celebrating 25 years in the bridal industry. If you think about the many brides you have dressed over this time period, how have their fashion tastes changed and evolved?
Monique Lhuillier: I feel that brides today are more risk-takers. They listen less to tradition and more to designs that reflect their true personalities. I love seeing brides continue to embrace fashion in bridal. My goal has always been to provide brides with the dress of their dreams, helping them to be the very best version of themselves on such a special day.
How are these tastes reflected in the collection of engagement rings and diamond bands you designed for Kay?
Selecting an engagement ring is very similar to finding the perfect wedding dress—it is a personal choice that also reflects one’s personality. My jewelry designs for Kay take inspiration from my bridal designs, tying in floral accents and beautiful, flowing silhouettes. I really wanted to create a fashionable jewelry collection of modern yet traditional styling with romantic and botanical themes.
What is your favorite diamond shape or cut?
While there are so many gorgeous shapes, I would say that princess cut is a favorite of mine. All of the faceting of this fancy cut makes it so brilliant. There is also a modernity to princess-cut diamonds that creates a stylish look.
I remember an impeccable fit being a signature of any Monique Lhuillier gown. Did you think about the fit and proportion of the rings when you designed the collection for Kay?
As with my dresses, I’ve brought the same intricacies, delicate details, and refinements to the designs of my engagement rings and diamond bands. For many of the styles, I’ve arranged the diamonds in a way that is reminiscent of movement and fluidity, like the flow of my dresses. I’ve also used mini fancy-shape diamonds perfectly proportioned to complement and accentuate the center stone of each ring.
The collection is currently available in Kay Jewelers stores and online.
Top: Designer Monique Lhuillier’s rise to acclaim has a lot to do with her disruption of the bridal fashion world in the late 1990s. “I redefined ways of working with lace and creating new cuts that were less traditional yet still timeless,” she says. “Silhouettes were close to the body and often accented with sashes—a very different look than what was found in the market at that time.” Many of the principles that put her on the map way back when resurface in the small details that define her new collection of engagement rings and wedding bands for Kay Jewelers. Engagement ring in 18k white gold with princess, marquise, and round diamonds, $4,300. (Portrait courtesy of Monique Lhuillier)
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