All images via Style.com

Monique Lhuillier is a collection that I always enjoy seeing but never expect to surprise me; the designer’s roots in bridal always portend beautiful dresses both short and long, plus lots of red carpet options. Lhuillier’s collections are generally pretty in a way on which everyone can agree. But Monique Lhuillier Spring 2012 at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York was something more than that. The cocktail dresses were lean and athletically inspired; the ball gowns were patterned or wrapped in leather.

There was plenty of the Lhuillier we know and love to be found with the classic proportions of the evening dresses, but the mood seemed altogether more modern and, to use an overused word, slightly edgier than you might expect from the bridal maven. These dresses might appeal more to the fashion set than the red carpet set, but here’s hoping that someone’s brave enough to wear one of the patterned (Is it tie-dye? Splatter print?) ball gowns to some sort of public event in the near future.

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