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David Chum Discusses His Line Selahdor's AURYN Collection

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Welcome to The Walkthrough, where we chat with designers (in painstaking detail) about how their latest and greatest creations came to be, from ideation to production.


David Chum's latest inspiration is film—well, one film in particular, The NeverEnding Story. More specifically, his line Selahdor has debuted a Fall/Winter 2013 collection inspired by a cool-girl manifestation of the film's villain, "The Nothing," with all minimal silhouettes and utilitarian figures. In case you missed his luncheon show with Marilyn Riseman at Brasserie Jo last week, take a peek through the designer's Instagram account. Now, here's an in-depth look into just how the came to be from concept to the real deal.—Heather C. White

Break down the ten steps of designing a garment.
1) Inspiration; 2) Moodboard; 3) Market analysis and research; 4) Mind mapping; 5) Music for runway show is selected and I listen to it obsessively. I usually have a list of 10 possible songs I would use; 6) Sketch; 7) Fabric Choice; 8) Patternmaking/draping; 9) Tests sewn in muslin, usually up to 3 times; 10) Sample is sewn (either in-house or at our factory right here in Massachusetts) and iterations are made if necessary.

Is there anything specific you do at the very beginning of the process to get in the right mindset or mood?
Lots of coffee and good music. I start every day in the studio like this. Usually starting a collection is the most difficult; it can be nerve wracking. You'd think I'd be excited, but it's this strange mix of anxiety and excitement and stress because I know there are months of work ahead of me once I start drawing.

Let's start with inspiration. What's the inspiration of your latest collection/piece?
Fall/Winter 2013 is the second collection in a trio of collections entitled "AURYN." They are based on characters and elements from the popular children's film The NeverEnding Story. This collection was inspired by the film's villain, "The Nothing." I wanted a look that was utilitarian, casual, elegant, slightly forward thinking, and youthful, but appropriate for a wide range of ages.

How much of an idea of the final product did you have when you first started identifying that inspiration?
I always have a mood or a vague idea of where I would like a collection to go. With this one I knew I could create something that was worn down and deconstructed or something that was extremely simple and aggressive. I went with the latter. This language was a better fit for the Selahdor woman.

Did you know how many pieces there would be? Did you have a sense of "who" the collection was being designed for or did that come later?
I always have up to 40 pieces I would like to include, but time and budget constraints are usually what determine the final outcome of a collection. I always design for a modern woman who is looking for special pieces that will stand the test of time. It sounds cliché, but I want women to feel powerful and strong in my clothes. I want them to be the center of attention.

Talk to us about your sketching process.
I always sketch by hand. Initially I only sketch the looks from the front. I did this very small because it allows me to work quickly. I usually do this for a few days until I've exhausted all possibilities. Then I go through and weed out the winners. From there I sketch them again, this time with views from the side and back. If there are any issues in the muslins or samples, I go back to the drawing and make changes.

Now, what's your process of turning a sketch into a pattern?
I have spent a long time perfecting the fit of my garments for my ideal market. I have a set of patterns called "master blocks" which I have created. They are basically simplified patterns, which can be manipulated into more complex pieces. They're the building blocks, foundations. I draft all my patterns by hand. My process is 90% patternmaking and 10% draping.

And about how long does it take to create a first sample?
Eight to twelve hours, if you don't include all the sketching, patternmaking, etc.

How many samples before the runway-ready garment?
Usually one to three.

Do you design with a specific model or models in mind? Talk to us about your model casting process.
I follow the same standards as the rest of the industry. My models are usually 5'8" and up and measure 35"/25"/36". I don't design with this ideal in mind though. I try to think of all women, and what areas of their bodies they may or may not be proud of. It depends on the piece and what age group we're talking about. I just try to play up a woman's strengths and let the other stuff fade into the background. Something that sounds so simple can dictate the length of a hemline. It's not earth shattering, but makes a difference at the end of the day.

Once you've got the models and the clothing, who handles the invitations, seating charts, and linesheets?
Myself, my assistant, and if I am signed with one, my PR/Showroom.

Who do you always make sure is sitting front row?
Buyers, press, and family/friends who have supported me from day one.

On the day of the show, what's left?
Steaming, ironing, and communication with the models and backstage team about the run of show.

If you landed a Vogue cover, what piece would be featured?
Out of everything I've ever made? The digital purple print silk and lambskin gown from Spring/Summer 2013.
· David Chum Found Inspiration in The NeverEnding Story [Racked Boston]
· All The Walkthrough posts [Racked Boston]
· Selahdor [Official Site]