Wedding Wednesday

IDRS 15 Files #6: Behind the Scenes with Designer Phuong Minh Nguyen

The Kirkland-based designer merges Vietnamese style with Northwest design.

By Aoife Reilly September 16, 2015

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Image via Cory Dawson

The first thing you notice about a Phuong Minh Nguyen gown is the dramatic multi layered silhouette. Look closer and you will see intricate detailing of the highest caliber.

Hailing from Vietnam, Phuong set up her own label, Dream Dresses by P.M.N, in 2014 after she designed and created her own wedding dress. The Seattle Art Institute graduate's creations speak to both the classic bride and the bride who favors a more colorful approach. Inspired by traditional Vietnamese weddings where brides often wear colorful gowns, Phuong includes rich tones of red and yellow in her current collection, Autumn Glamour. Expect to see dramatic silhouettes, exquisite detailing, and playful pops of color on the runway on September 23.

What neighborhood is your studio in and how does that part of the city inspire you or help you design, produce, or otherwise do business?
I live in Kirkland and my studio is in my home. The neighborhood is very quiet, which helps me to stay focused on my designs. I especially love downtown Kirkland, where I usually go to relax, get fresh air, and get inspiration for my work.

Why did you choose that neighborhood? How long have you been there?
I have lived in Kirkland for almost four years, although I didn’t have much to do with choosing it since my husband has been living there since before we met. I do love the neighborhood though. It sort of reminds me of my hometown in Vietnam as it’s far enough away from a major city to relax but still easy enough to get to if I need.

What is your earliest memory of designing? What is the first thing you remember designing—maybe it's something you created before you even started calling yourself a designer, or maybe it's the thing that made you realize that you are a designer.
I have always loved playing dress-up and experimenting with fashion. I remember when I was around six years old, I really began to admire a few of my friends who were making clothes for their dolls and I wished that I could do the same. At the time I didn’t know how to sew but I have been interested ever since. In high school I really enjoyed redesigning my clothes by adding crystals, beads, and repurposing things like old jeans to make myself a new purse.

What do you do to get yourself in a creative or productive headspace when you're feeling stuck?
I usually get out of the house to buy some bubble tea, browse around the fabric store, or watch some runway shows online. I try not to dwell on it when I am not feeling creative, since I understand it’s just a part of the process and will pass.

What are five things you can't work without and why?
I can’t live without my laptop, phone, list, sketchbook, and music. I am currently running most of my business online, so my laptop and my phone are the most important things. A daily to-do list is very important for me to plan my day. It helps me organize my work and it saves time by letting me know what to do next. I always have a sketchbook handy so that I can capture my thoughts and inspirations any time they hit me. Lastly, I need music. Music helps me focus when I am sewing—it helps me stay creative and it keeps me from losing my mind when I am working alone in my studio all day.

What is your favorite thing about your studio? What makes it your ideal working environment?
My favorite thing about my studio is that it is in my home. It allows me to work at any time and I don’t have to worry about traffic or making it to appointments. Also, my husband is very handy. He has built me all kinds of things that make my studio great, like a huge cutting table that folds away when I’m not using it, some great storage areas, and a fantastic wrap around mirror in my fitting room complete with great lighting.

Where can we find your products, and where would you like us to be able to find your products—that is, if you could snap your fingers and have anyone start stocking and selling your stuff, what would that look like?
I operate out of my home in Kirkland, and work by appointment only. You can find my designs on my website and customers outside of the Seattle area can contact me there. I would like to see my dresses carried in major wedding boutiques across the country, both off-the-rack designs, as well as an option for a custom gown. Currently there aren’t many options for brides that want to be involved with the initial dress design, and I’d like to change that.

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