Monique Lhuillier has teamed with Paper Source to launch signature wedding invitations, but the designer and the retailer’s chief executive officer Winnie Park needed no introduction.
They met 21 years ago when Lhuillier hosted a trunk show at Ultimate Bride in Chicago, and sold a wedding gown to Park. “I had searched for a gown everywhere. I’d been to Atlanta, New Orleans, New York.…I had made an appointment at Ultimate Bride and I had literally tried on dozens of gowns,” Park said.
A salesperson suggested Park check out the trunk show with Lhuillier, who was then a new designer. “She said, ‘You’re going to love her energy and she is about your size,’” Park recalled, adding that she is “vertically challenged.”
After trying on some of Lhuillier’s dresses, Park shared some of her favorite elements of them with the designer. “She whipped out a sketchbook and designed a dress for me on the spot,” she said.
“Who knew — fast-forward — that we would be designing stationery together and our paths would cross again?” Lhuillier said.
Starting Wednesday, there will be 12 suites of wedding invitations, including a watercolor greenery option inspired by her printed wedding dresses. There are also touches of vellum lace overlays, shimmer ribbons and custom wax seals for a finishing touch. Blush pink, a standby color in the designer’s wedding dress collection, is also offered.
At the premium end of Paper Source’s offerings, the Monique Lhuillier range will retail from $900 to $2,000 per 100 invitations. Hand-painted edges are among the details that can be added. Park, who previously worked at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Levi Strauss & Co., is taking a fashion-focused approach to the wedding invitation sector.
The project was put in motion at the beginning of the year, and the two parties used swatches from Lhuillier’s collection as a starting point in March. Park said, “We really started from the fabric up in terms of conceiving the design and capturing her aesthetic in the line.”
Despite COVID-19 restrictions for large gatherings, couples still want to get married, and in many instances brides-to-be are looking to speed up getting their wedding dresses, Lhuillier said. Paper Source shoppers can design their invitations from their homes or go into its stores for added support. They will be sold in the retailer’s 165 stores.
The designer has not offered wedding invitations in a few years. With a portfolio that includes wedding dresses, ready-to-wear, accessories, home decor and other products, nonbridal items comprise 50 percent of her offerings, she said. Although there are less large-scale weddings than there were pre-COVID-19, there is less price resistance for wedding gowns. “People just want what they want, whether they are going to get married with five people in the room, or 50 people. They want the dress that they want. That has been very clear to us in the past few months,” Lhuillier said.
With her secondary collection ranging from $4,000 to $6,000 and her main collection running from $6,000 to $15,000, the designer said the average sale is about $9,000.
While many couples have postponed their weddings until they can hold them, price points have not declined, according to Park. In addition, consumers’ interest in fine paper and stationery has increased, due to the lockdown. With premium customers at Paper Source, Park said, “It’s not about price resistance. It’s about, ‘When can I do this?’” she said.