Monique Lhuillier is a fashion designer from Philippines, eminent for bridal wear. She was born in 1971 to Michel J. Lhuillier and Amparito Llamas and raised in Cebu City in a house with one sister and two brothers. Her father was born in Vietnam when the country was a French colony. He is a jeweler, estate buyer and a diplomat while her mother is a former model. Monique’s parents used to forbade their daughters from wearing black outfits when they were young. Her mother sewed her clothes as well as her daughters’ apparel and became so interested and proficient in it that she began a small business from her home. Later on, the seamstresses made the daughters’ outfits. Seeing the designing and stitching process of tailoring, Monique became curious to learn more about this. She then began spending time with the local designers and when the family had to go to any event or occasion, her parents gave Monique some liberty to design what she wanted to wear.
At the age of fifteen, she left for Switzerland to study at Chateau Mont-Choisi, a boarding school. She then attended Saint Theresa’s College. As a teenage girl, she was a very intelligent student with an outstanding academic performance, and often dreamt of pursuing a successful career in fashion designing. Monique’s plan for further studies worried her parents since they didn’t want her to go to New York alone. A better choice was Los Angeles where her brothers also studied. Hence, she joined the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. While studying in there, she met Tom Bugbee who became her future life partner and the father of her two kids. Bugbee was working to attain a degree in business.
After graduating, she found a job in a sportswear company, Melivier, but discovered that the work did not support creative or artistic thinking. Once the couple decided to get married, Monique left her work and began her wedding shopping spree.
In 1995, while exploring and searching stores for a perfect wedding dress, Monique was astonished seeing the lack of fashionable bridal wears. Although she found a dress that met her expectation to some extent, Monique put her design brain to function and sketched twenty-five dresses for her friends and family to wear at her wedding party. Monique and Bugbee’s reception was held at the Ritz Carlton in California. Because her dreams and her affinity for bridal and evening dresses, Monique unveiled her debut bridal line in 1996 with the financial support of her parents.
Both the editors and the buyers, loved the collection. Bugbee became the CEO of the company and supported Monique in turning her vision to reality. The Monique Lhuillier label encompasses bridal and bridesmaid gowns, prêt-a-porter, evening dresses, handbags, home furnishing items and fragrances.
The brand has become the favorite of celebrities for red carpet events as well as for weddings. Her clientele list includes Katy Perry, Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Shannen Doherty, Catherine Zeta Jones, Kim Yoo Jin, Nicki Minaj, Carrie Underwood, Zooey Deschanel, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Kristen Stewart, Hilary Swank, Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon and Gwyneth Paltrow.
For her work, in 2003 she was made the member of Council of Fashion Designers of America and in 2006 Monique Lhuillier was presented with the Medal of Honor by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of Philippine.