Couture for a cause: Lavishness championed at Symphony’s fashion show

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 11:50am

Guests to Tuesday evening's annual fund-raiser fashion show hosted by the Nashville Symphony were treated to the sumptuous designs of Los-Angeles designer Monique Lhuillier.

The country may be in a recession, but the slow economy was the last thing on the minds of the attendees of the Nashville Symphony spring fashion show held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Tuesday evening.

Hosted by Grammy winning country trio Lady Antebellum, the event featured a sit down dinner for several hundred following a presentation of Los Angeles-based designer Monique Lhuillier’s fall 2009 collection, a sumptuous line of couture-level evening gowns and formal suits — with price tags to match.

According to the program, Lhuillier’s collection — which debuted at New York Fashion Week earlier this year — was a modern take on the famed Ballet Russes theater company.

Like Yves Saint Laurent, who famously used the same theme back in 1976, Lhuillier used a brilliant range of festive jewel tones: petrol blue, teal, aubergine, fuchsia, jade, turquoise; but unlike YSL, who riffed on Russian sartorial themes in his interpretation, she kept the exotic overtones of the collection to a minimum.

The glamour index, however, went to 11.

Among the standout gowns in a collection full of memorable pieces — any one of which will look great coming down the red carpet at the Swan Ball later this spring — was the sheer black chiffon column dress embroidered with cascading lines of antique gold sequins; the royal purple crepe de chine one-shouldered goddess gown; and any of the wonderful peacock feather pieces that were sprinkled throughout the show.

The distinctive feathers showed up most notably toward the finale, when bleached rows of the long, wispy feathers were embroidered onto the ball skirt of one of the two wedding dresses that closed the presentation — a fitting denouement, considering that Lhuillier first became famous for her luxury bridal gowns before she began dressing the likes of Angelina Jolie and Debra Messing on the country’s chicest red carpets.

A smattering of local celebrities showed up to enjoy the show. On the front row were country music stars Phil Vassar, Joe Nichols, as well as Joe Don Rooney and Jay DeMarcus, two members of last year’s hosts Rascal Flatts.

Speaking to press before the pre-show cocktail party in the Schermerhorn’s courtyard, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott shared what it was like to actually wear one of Lhuillier’s gowns.

Scott, who wore a deep red frock by the designer to pick up the group’s Grammy earlier this year, said she was drawn to a navy blue chiffon slip dress with cascading ruffles along a graduated hemline this time around.

“It has been the most amazing experience,” said Scott, who complemented her dress with sky-high platform sandals and gorgeous gemstone jewelry by CDB Ltd. “Monique sent me a bunch of dresses to try on. It was just amazing to play dress up in them. It was like a little girl’s dream.”

And apparently a big one’s, too.