Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wardrobe Mistress // The Story Behind The Costuming

Lian Pham, better known as the Wardrobe Mistress, is an extremely gifted human being. In addition to being an entrepreneurial powerhouse -she ran successful promotions company for 13 years before opening Prohibition with business partner Anh Mai in 2012- she is a woman full of passion and divine creativity. As the fledgling burlesque show at Prohibition began to take shape, Lian took on the critical role as The Moonlight Dolls' in-house costumer. 

In preparation for this post, I asked her to send me three things that inspire her most when it comes to her costuming. She is a woman of few words and so I did not want to press her. What I received back was a very inspiring story that only she can tell:

So every 2nd generation Vietnamese grows up hearing stories of how their parents fled their country for freedom, to the land of opportunity. I always grew up hearing my parents story, dad was a lawyer and mom was an accountant, both had college educations but lost everything when they fled to America. They had to start all over. My dad's first job was given to him by a lady who asked him if he could turn her black leather skirt to hot pink (this was the 80's). He took the job, scraped the leather and dyed it hot pink! She was very happy and gave him their first TV. Ever since then, I've always looked at material not for what it is but what it can be...and that has stuck with me. My parents are my true inspiration. 

That was the beginning of their new career. They got sponsored by a group from Little Rock, AR. That's where I was born and also where they opened their first shop. I grew up around it [tailoring]. I helped my mom take orders and sew buttons, I did very basic stuff on the machine. It was definitely not something I wanted to do, it just sort of fell into my lap. 

After opening Prohibition, we chose burlesque as a choice of entertainment since it fit the era.  After buying some of our first costumes, I was inspired to make the costumes myself and that's how the whole costuming part started.

I think every artist looks at different pictures for inspiration. I would say vintage photos of burlesque performers are where I find mine. 

At the end of the day it goes back to my parents. They have taught me that I can do anything, and anything is possible. A lot of people have parents that support them with words; I don't think my parents have ever actually told me they supported me. It has always been done through actions. They have always helped me in some sort of physical way, ever since I was a child. Even to this day helping me with costumes, buying me books .....They really believe in me and in return, gave me confidence which really made me believe anything is possible.

Fabric shopping in NYC...
The process...
Finished product! Worn by beautiful JoJo Bella!
Magical dress for Magical Abby Cadabra! 
Kitty Kitty Bang Bang looks like a phoenix in this creation! 
Lian chose the appliques and silk in NYC and with it created this pink and burgundy ensemble for Ms. Roxie.
Lian's father's thoughtful gift to his daughter.

Lian's Beautiful Family

We stopped in all of the fabric shopping to enjoy lobster at the Chelsea Market in NYC! 
You can follow Lian on Instagram: @shopwardrobemistress. For costuming, email info@themoonlightdolls.com

In Family We Trust,


  1. committed & hard working as well as talented & gracious
    Prohibition is in great hands

  2. the story is somehow prettier than the costumes!! love it!

  3. Congrats dear Lian. You are such a wonderful and talented person

  4. Congratulations Lian, I 'm impressed. You are so talented.
    Cô Huệ San Jose, California