Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Designer Spotlight: David Joseph Designs

In the quiet solitude of his studio apartment, David Fisher sculpts fabrics into couture. The self-taught designer contemplates over fabric choice when creating his custom-made designs for Washington’s socialites and tastemakers. He calculates how he will turn a concept into a finished product, operating on a 3-week start to finish timeframe for ready-to-wear and 4 – 6 weeks for bridal or couture. He is a one-man show.

The 23-year-old native Nebraskan arrived in DC two years ago after a journey across the states in search of the ideal location to launch his label, David Joseph Designs. It began in the costume department, where he interned at Creighton University. Under the direction of the head costume designer, he learned to sew and one costume design class later, he turned entrepreneur and started selling vintage clothing and worked on textile conservation projects for private collections.

I sat down with David in the lobby of his historic apartment building, a luxurious space restored to its original 1920s decor. Said place, in addition to DC’s museums and architecture, serves as inspiration for his vintage-inspired design aesthetic and reverence for the curvaceous silhouette. We talked about his design process, the Mad Men craze, and his green lifestyle.

: What does the collection say about your own personal style?
DF: I love the styles from the 1930s through the 1950s, and every design reflects that. I personally own a large collection of WWII jackets and wear them for special occasions in the colder months. They are definitely my favorite article of clothing. I also like the 1950s aesthetic where men dressed very sharp and tailored and women's clothing was fitted yet feminine. I think it was the last era where clothing was truly beautiful, and I try to encapsulate that in my design aesthetic.

MSL: Where do you acquire your materials?
DF: I acquire my materials from all over the globe. For day-to-cocktail ensembles, I procure materials both locally and through online fabric retailers. For bridal and couture designs, I often important one-of-a-kind fabrics and trims from Europe. For one couture gown, I purchased a custom silk produced in the same shop that made the costumes for the HBO series, The Tudors.

MSL: How many pieces are typically in a collection?
DF: Since each design is custom-made, I do not produce a typical collection. Each season, I choose a theme and make a select number of designs based off the inspiration. This usually ranges from six to twelve pieces per collection.

MSL: Who is your target audience?
DF: My target audience is modern women who are on the move. When I established my label, I wanted to create designs that could seamlessly transition from the workplace to a cocktail party to any type of formal event. The modern woman does not want to waste time and money constantly changing her wardrobe. For my ready-to-wear designs, I create fashion-forward pieces that work in a variety of settings, assuring my client is effortlessly chic at every stage of her day.

MSL: What has been one of your most elaborate designs to date?
DF: One of my favorite designs is the Lake Gown I made inspired by the one Natalie Portman wears in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Movie reproductions are always magical, as it is a labor of love to see a masterpiece on screen, and then see your inspired creation come to life. The minute I saw the gown, I knew it was extraordinary. It took three attempts and nine months to create the ombre effect with the dye. Start to finish, it took nearly a year to make. I sent it to a photographer in Ohio for a photo shoot and was absolutely mesmerized by the photographs. They are so beautiful, it looks like a dream.

MSL: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DF: Over the next five years, I hope to see my business grow into a thriving label. I am very happy living in DC and hope my fashions forever find a home in this wonderful city. It has always been a dream of mine to open a flagship store in New York, and I hope to achieve that within the next few years.

MSL: How does your green living influence your profession?
DF: I don’t waste anything! I measure my fabric carefully as not to waste and use fabrics that are high in quality and going to last. I recycle everything. And personally, I want to be healthy so I eat organic produce and walk everywhere.

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