Monique Lhuillier Shows Ripped Tights at Budget-Conscious Presentation

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Monique Lhuillier Photo: Getty Images

Fashion Week technically starts tomorrow (gasp), but we just saw our first big fall 2009 presentation. And ... it didn't feel recession-y at all! Though last Fashion Week Monique Lhuillier staged a runway show in the tents, she showed her fall 2009 collection in an intimate presentation at the Oak Room on Central Park South this afternoon. She said she decided to show with the economy in mind, but did not design for the recessionary times. "I feel like in times like this you need to give people a reason to buy," she said. "I want to give people what they expect from me." And that is beautiful gowns, with layers of silk tulle and jewel embellishments, inspired this season by Ballet Russe. Models wore ripped tights on their arms and legs, underneath the evening gowns. "I wanted to give the collection an edgier twist," Lhuillier said of the juxtaposition.

Rather than standing awkwardly on a platform or posing on a set with lights beaming up at them, the models mingled with the crowd, so guests could see the clothes up close. (Yes, people still stared at them awkwardly, but that's no different than any other party with a bunch of models, right?) Sure, there was a moment when they got perhaps a little lazy and sat down at the bar, but in no time they were up and vamping for photographers.

Lhuillier only presented 12 of her 35 fall 2009 looks this afternoon, which enabled her to save money on models (buyers will see the complete collection at their showroom appointments). The Oak Room might have been cheaper than the tents but was also decidedly more elegant. Budget cuts weren't evident in the refreshments: Waiters passed mini-pistachio-macaroons, white wine, and Champagne (so if we make typos, you know whyerlskn — kidding!).

After the show, Lhuillier will prep for the Oscars. She's not sure if anyone will wear her dresses, but said, "I have a lot of great leads." She'll also plow ahead on her bridal line. "Bridal is more recession-proof than ready-to-wear. I feel like the wedding dress is one place people don't want to skimp out on," Lhuillier told us, adding that they're more likely to cut back on the guest list or other areas before the dress.

The cherry on top of the anti-recessionary ambiance was the crowd of editors, buyers, and fashion folk, dripping in designer clothes, $3,000 handbags, and the requisite Christian Louboutins. Ah, the Loubs. Fashion Week is really here!