QWhat was the first garment you ever made?
AIt was probably a ballgown for a show called "Cinderella Waltz."
QWhat's playing on your iPod when you're designing?
AIt depends. I tend to like upbeat music: Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Adele, Britney Spears . Other times I like it mellow and listen to Cat Power or Belle and Sebastian.
QWhen did you realize you had designer potential?
AIn high school, when I was designing costumes for the theater company. It came naturally to me and was something I enjoyed doing.
AAlber Elbaz, Alexander McQueen, Madame Gres, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Christian Dior.
AI've run my own clothing label, Selahdor, for about three years. I wait tables the rest of the time to supplement my income.
QCan you describe past jobs you've had?
AWaiter, artist's model.
QWhat is a fashion must?
AA good pair of jeans.
QWhat is your design training?
AThe only sewing class I took was in middle school. I learned to sew a pillow. All my knowledge is from text books and experimentation.
QHave you won any awards related to design?
AI won several awards for my costume design at the annual Massachusetts High School Drama Competitions. Recently I was awarded a grant from the Emerging Designer Fund in Boston.
QWhat are your strengths as a designer?
AMy Fine Art training has given me a good sense of proportion and shape. I am best at structured, tailored looks. Pattern drafting is my number one strength.
QWhat are your weaknesses as a designer?
AGetting too wrapped up in meticulous details. Being self-taught is a weakness. Every day in my studio is an experiment of sorts.
QWhat's influenced your designs over the years?
AIn the past, old movies, nature, armor, flowers, insects, mythology, etc. Recently, butterfly chrysalises. This has translated to anatomical seaming in my work.
QWhat's your favorite material or fabric to work with?
AWools, silk-wool blends, and silk gazar.
QWhat's the item you're most proud of designing?
Asome suiting I made for AW2011: a gray silk/wool jacket with anatomical seams, structured collar and pleating. It's paired with a box-pleated miniskirt.
QDo you prefer sketching or draping?
A80 percent sketch, 20 percent drape.
QDo you prefer patterns or solids?
QWhat are your favorite colors?
ABlack, red, gray, white.
QWhat's your biggest fear as a designer?
ANot finishing things in time, and generally failure.
QWhat fashion faux pas drives you crazy?
AUGGS!!!! And those velour sweatsuits that say stuff across the butt. Even worse is when those things happen together and the woman decides to carry an expensive handbag with the look.
QWhat's the ugliest thing you've ever worn?
AMy entire teenage years are riddled with bad fashion choices. The worst is probably all the wide-legged JNCO Jeans I used to wear.
QWho are your favorite style icons?
QIf you designed for the first lady, what would you design for her?
AInteresting suits, pant and skirt and jacket combos, that were classic but distinct. Lots of seaming and pleating and slight volumes. I'd keep it classy, though. She IS the first lady.
QWhat celebrity would you like to design for?
ADaphne Guinness. I'd design a crazy organza gown with detailed stitching and sculptural peplums, and a cropped tuxedo jacket to pair it with.
QWho's your supermodel muse?
AI think Chanel Iman is quite lovely out of this new crop of models.
QWhat do you look for in a model?
AAt least 5'9 , thin but not sickly, some curves are OK, pretty and distinctive face, well-balanced and proportioned figure.
QIf you had to name your label, you'd call it . . .
AI'd like to have three different labels: Selahdor by David Chum, then something else by David Chum, and finally THE David Chum line, which would probably be the really nice high-end stuff.
QIf you weren't designing, you'd be . . .
AAt the beach, tanning, swimming, and sipping a cocktail.
QDream place to set up your design business?
AEither NYC or Paris.
QWebsites that feature your work, including your own site(s)?
Aselahdor.com, notjustlabel.com, emergingdesignerfund.com, smashingdarling.com
QAny other cultures or places you wish you could design for?
QHow were you described as a kid?
ASmart, quiet, talented, a little hotheaded at times.
QHow are you described now?
ASmart, extroverted, vigilant, driven, honest to a fault, fun, easy to get along with, talented, faithful, insightful.
QCan you describe your family?
AMy parents are Cambodian refugees, and I grew up in a very traditional Cambodian household. There was a bit of a struggle between the American culture and ideals we grew up with and those of my parents.
QMarriage or kids?
APartnered 10 years, no kids.
QDo you have any pets?
ATurtle: Tetris. Cat: Pearl.
QDo you have any nicknames?
AChum, D. Chum, David Chum (people have taken to calling me by my full name recently).
QWhy are you (or aren't you) easy to live with?
AI know how to get along with people and to maintain a balance to keep the peace among the group. If there is something wrong, I have no problems communicating that.
QWhat's your favorite hangout back home?
AI don not really have one. If I am "hanging out", I am usually at home.
QWhat are your hobbies besides designing?
ADancing, drawing, painting, reading, movies, music.
QWhat are your favorite movies and TV shows?
AMovies: anything directed by Pedro Almodovar, 8 Women, Inland Empire, Funny Face, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. TV: Project Runway (obvi), True Blood, Weeds, Glee.
QWhat are your favorite books and authors?
QWhat are your favorite websites?
AFacebook? I don't really surf the Web for entertainment.
QYour Twitter handle?
QFavorite Twitter accounts?
QiPhone, Android or BlackBerry?
QFast food or gourmet?
QCooking or takeout?
ACooking. I am a VERY, VERY good cook.
ASushi, anything Asian or Asian-inspired, french fries.
QBeer or wine?
QBiggest pet peeve?
ALiars and fakes and cheats.
QFavorite designer from past seasons of Project Runway?
QProject Runway challenge you wish they'd bring back for your season?
AThe avant-garde ones are my favorite.
QProject Runway challenge you hope they don't bring back?
AAny kind of a commission for a child.
QYour take on team challenges ... love them or hate them?
AHate. Too many egos and different skill sets trying to create one singular work.
QHow did you end up auditioning for Project Runway?
AMy friends and family have been pressuring me for quite some time. A few of the recruiters have been in touch with me these past few years, encouraging me to audition.
QWhy do you think you will win Project Runway?
AOnce I have my mind set on something I will work my butt off until I get it. I am extremely driven and persistent.