David Chum’s name is one you are going to know. Selah D’or is a brand you are going to covet. I have no doubt of this Boston based designer’s talent. I had a chance to interview this savvy young man in a bedroom, turned creative domain in the home he shares with his partner in Arlington, MA. Everywhere you look you see inspiration, and the tools used to facilitate it. Spools of thread abound, bolts of fabric, patterns line the walls, and a dress form, draped with what will certainly be gracing a catwalk or two this fall. There is an energy in this space one that chants: create, create, create. Knowing that I am here to pick his brain and not to watch him heed this chant is a sore reality, that instantly ebbes once I hear him speak.
To be in a room with David Chum is to feel inspired, the sensation is palpable as if he has pure electricity running through his veins. Working in Boston as a designer is no easy task, but he has his eyes opened and his finger on the pulse, so naturally I want to know,
Dernier Cri: How do you design for the city of Boston?
David: “I try to design each collection in such a way that it is comfotable and striking. This is one reason why I’ve recently included SO MANY seperates. I know American women love their jeans, I do too, so it’s nice to have a good jacket or shirt to pair with them. Consistently, the feedback I have gotten from my clients and customers is that they feel comfortable and sexy in my clothes. My wears aren’t so fashion forward that they are unapproachable. The lines are very clean and sleek, I pay attention to silhouettes and how they work with different body types. I design for the fashionista’s in the city, who are looking for something special. ”
And something special is what they will get because at the level David is at now, with his career being so young, a woman may end up being one of maybe a hundred in the world to own a particular piece. Unique indeed, you won’t find yourself at a party wearing the same knock off as someone else. Knock off’s are however a small homage to designers, and this makes me wonder…
Dernier Cri: Who are some of your favorite designers?
David: “Alexander McQueen is my absolute favorite. I was a mess when he died. His vision and technique were just amazing. He brought a sense of drama and theatricality to the runway that never felt contrived. Next it would have to be Alber Elbaz from Lanvin. I love his aesthetic and his technique. I’ve spent a lot of time at Barney’s in the Copley Mall studying his dresses, turning them inside out and really examining every piece of construction.”
It is apparent as I look around the room that David is himself, a master of construction. I see perfectly laid pattern pieces about the room and it makes me question as with any artist, how important are the tools he constructs with?
Dernier Cri: How important are the materials to the integrity of the design?
David Chum: “In terms of materials, they should be the finest you can get. Right down to the thread that it is being sewn with, If you insist on using synthetics, which some designers like Alexander Wang do, they should also be very high quality. My new FW10 collection is nothing but wool, silk, cotton, and gold filled hardware. There are buttons on my jackets that I had to source from Italy. They are wooden and covered with leather. They were not easy to find, and they cost me an arm and a leg, but this is the quality I want to uphold.”
Dernier Cri: Do you prefer Sketching designs or actually constructing them as a creative process?
David: “I prefer both, in a way. I start out with a sketch. Then I will draft the patterns in muslin. If it is a particularly difficult design I will work it on my half-scale dressform. So I’m basically making it doll sized. The most interesting part of the process is trying to match the actual design in the actual fabric to the initial sketch. I am 90% drafter and 10% draper in my process. I feel like a mad scientist in a lab whenever I start a new piece.”
David is a little bit mad scientist, and his own personal style filled with vests, cardigans and, timeless button downs fits the description quite well. If a fashion designer and Dr. Jekyll met you might have something very near David Chum. His personal style being so fantastic I have to know…
Dernier Cri: How does your personal style translate into your designs?
David: “I’m actually very very simple. I like mixing and matching vintage pieces with newer ones. I’m really thin, so I find it best if I keep my clothes very streamlined, tailored, and sleek. I think you can see the vintage appeal and same lines in my work. My work, I’ve learned after three seasons, exists in a place between transitions: retro/vintage vs futurustic, soft draping vs architectural shapes. With each season the focus changes a little, but the main feeling is always there.”
The feeling is definitely there for me. I can see why there is such a buzz about this young designer. He has brought the highest quality fabrics, fastners, and metals together with exquisite pattern making expertise and a cautious discerning eye for timely style that transcends trends to make a pieces that are essentially feminine. When I say essentially feminine I mean these pieces, these works of art are strong, they are soft, they captivate you, they are simple, and completely complex all in the same breath. They reflect the essence of a woman, and beyond the line’s apparent beauty, this is what endears them to me.
You can find out more about Selah D’or and David Chum @