I’m blown away by the love and support for this project. At best I had hoped for a project that would challenge my skills and hopefully not break my bank account while dreaming that I might get tagged and credited.
Tini performing at BDO.
I had been asked to do this project a couple weeks ago while I was making my move from North Carolina to California, I was driving a 26 foot U-haul cross county when Cara Gordon, the stylist, asked if I would do a custom piece for Tini Stoessel for her USA debut performance at the Balon de Oro. I jumped at the opportunity! What I didn’t realize when I said yes was that they would immediately ask for sketches.
All the sketch iterations for Tini's custom performance look at Balon de Oro
For me the project couldn’t have come at a worse time. I had just packed my entire life up and not even 6 hours into our 40 hour drive we lost our brake light on the U-haul. It just flew off. When that happened I wanted to cry and go back home. Turns out low-key it was a blessing in disguise. We had to stay in Lousiana for a day while the U-haul was being fixed. This gave me the chance to work on some of my Tini sketches while being at the pool instead of in a U-haul. At the end, with all the edits Tini team’s requested I ended up spending most of my road trip, about 30 hours, on sketches.
It was nerve-wracking to wait for an approval but then finally Tini herself said yes to the final outfit! Unfortunately the approval came the week before the event so all the items I had originally sourced for the project would not arrive in time for the event. I took this as an opportunity to explore the DTLA Fashion District fabric stores. 8 hours later and a hole in my pocket I was able to find most of everything except the fuchsia fishnet fabric and 22 charms for Tini’s bodysuit.
The final approved sketched by Tini herself!
I thankfully found the 22 charm the day before the event at a small mom and pop shop on Melrose called Goddess. This was after I called about 15 stores looking for at this point anything with 22 on it. I originally had ordered custom made charms for Tini but they ended up being shipped to my old address. I like to believe everything happens for a reason because this place was also a store for jewelry notions. That’s when I decided to make Tini earrings to go with her outfit. I thought it would be cute to surprise her with them.
Custom 22 hoop earrings to finish off the outfit and Tini wearing them right before her performance.
Then there was the issue of the outfit color. Normally I would have let Tini’s team know that their requested options does not exist and provide them with the existing options of fabric but because not only was I communicating through a third party, the approval process was long. There simply was no time. Therefore the only solution was to dye the fabric to achieve the color that was specifically requested by Tini. I had to dye the fabric twice using RIT dye to achieve the richness in color. This was the day before I was suppose to fit with her. I started the bodysuit at 4 am and I was finished to fit Tini at 11 am for the look the Thursday leading up to the the event. On top of doing the custom work for Tini I was also tailoring her red carpet looks, in addition to one more performance piece. This was probably not the best move on my part because of all the alterations that were needed. Simply put Tini is TINY.
Tini Latex Bodysuit with 22 charms .
The jacket was the most time consuming piece along with the boots. The jacket was all hand stitched with embellishments and quilted on the inside. While the boots were covered in a rhinestone mesh and the soles covered in crystals. My fingers were so raw the day of the event I was in pain making edits to her outfit. One of the edits was attaching a mic pocket inside the jacket lining, RIP to the LNH scrunchie I cut up to use as the materials for this pocket. The other edit was making a Phillip Plein Rhinestone body suit about four sizes smaller for her red carpet option, again ALL hand sewing, which she ended up not wearing. LOL Her actual red carpet look for Balon de Oro was a white I Am Gia jumpsuit that was just perfect styled by Cara Gordon.
I post a lot of my process on my instagram story @lisanhoang. This was a nightmare since the color would not take but after several tries we got it! Thank you RIT dye.
At the end of the day I was so grateful for this opportunity to learn and challenge myself as a designer. Tini’s performance was incredible and the perfect conclusion to what was an anxiety filled week where I doubted myself at every turn. Tini’s response to the whole outfit was more than I could have hoped for. I had been honest to god terrified at showing her the finished piece. Up to this point I had been told a number of things and that my designs were not a good fit for her so as you can imagine with what little information I did receive for the project, it sent me into a downward spiral of self doubt.
There were specific requests for the boot so that Tini can perform in them including having rubber soles. Cara found the exact boot that was needed and I went to work covering them in rhinestones with my boyfriend, Bastien Hay. And again because Tini is so small I had to resew the boots to fit her leg.
This was also not my first project with Tini. I did another pink custom outfit for her music video “Sad Song” with Alesso based on inspiration provided by the producers. Within 12 hours I was on an emotional roller coaster ride. I was told she did not like that outfit, to being told she loved it and would be wearing it for the video. Then the outfit was selected as a possible album cover option that would be featured at Time square in New York, to it not being used at all because of time constraints. This was a devastating blow but one I would clearly get over since I would go on to create a custom piece for her USA debut.
The final jacket with my brand logo on the inside collar. The final stitch was the most relieving moment of my life after 200 hours of nonstop work. Seeing Tini perform in it had me in tears.
My biggest take away from this project is contrary to what most emerging designers are told don’t fight for credit and recognition. The hard work and dedication will pay off. In an industry of self-boasters, take a step back to appreciate the work and opportunity vs how many people know you did it. But respect is non-negotiable. Work only with people who can respect the hard work and who can respect your expertise as a designer. This is something I struggle with because I don't feel like I'm good enough despite have a decade of experience. I’m not talking about Tini who is absolutely the sweetest and most genuine celebrity. Normally I don't get to attend the events I dress for but Tini was gracious enough not to mind having me there. It is not hard to see why she has a fandom. I admit to some fangirl moments.
Special thanks to my boyfriend Bastien Hay for helping me make this project happen. He spent consecutive all-nighters with me to help me finish the outfit, even learning to sew himself the day of the performance when I physically was unable to. Also to all the Tinistas who are tagging me in the screenshots. I'm loving all the images! I wish I took more pictures myself but I was too shy to do so.
Tini's Performance Stills
Watch the performance below: