By Kristen M. Foley
As a young girl, Nicole Chhuom became fascinated by the drawings of the female human form her uncle actively sketched. The lines and shapes of the human body not only intrigued her, but also made her desperately want to learn how to create her own sketches.
“I finally asked him to teach me how to draw,” she remembers. “I just thought the human form was beautiful.”
Nicole would sketch and sketch hundreds of variations of the human shape, getting better and better with each stoke. All of a sudden she started to add unique clothing designs onto those illustrations. Later she turned those designs into actual garments for her Barbie dolls using scraps of fabric from her parents’ closet or from old socks. She even created her own version of fashion plates.
“We didn’t have a lot of money when I was little and what toys we did have were from thrift stores, so most of the time I would have to think of something creative,” said Nicole. “I decided to take old magazines and newspapers and clip out outfits and put them together and make them into my own paper dolls—that’s how it all started.”
She later attended a local career center and developd her sewing and advanced art skills. It was there that she learned about CCAD’s fashion program and decided to apply. With all that she’s learned though, she continues to rely on those early sketching skills, especially when she started to research her senior collection.
“My strengths as a designer include design concept, illustration, and the styling part of it,” she notes. “I love mixing and matching pieces together and making people happy and comfortable in what they wear.”
In fact, those elements were key in even choosing her final fabrics for her collection.
“I am so particular when it comes to fabrics. It has to be comfortable, nice to the touch, and I want it to relate to me,” said Nicole. “I don’t like a lot of prints and I’m very simple in my fabric choices.”
However, what wasn’t simple in this process was creating her final collection garments. She laughs about it now, but she admits she could have easily created 10 or more garments this year because she kept changing her mind about what she wanted her collection to be. In essence, she kept starting over.
Her final collection expresses dichotomy. In her written thesis Nicole describes being inspired by fragmented mirrors she saw in the Harajuku shopping district in Tokyo.
“The reflection within the mirrors itself strikes me the most,” Nicole wrote. “The repetitive and defined lines, the edges and soft curves within the reflections were all of the things that inspired my autumn collection.”
She also notes a fascination with femininity versus masculinity. She chose a neutral color palette, and interpreted her soft circular shapes as representing the feminine, while structured lines and triangular shapes symbolized the masculine.
“I’m happy with my collection now, but if I could make more changes I would,” said Nicole. “I sometimes felt like I was doing things to make everyone else happy…. I can’t just please other people. I have to please myself, too.”
Nicole’s designs will join her fellow seniors work on the runway in just a few short weeks at the 2013 Senior Fashion Show. If you were lucky enough to grab a ticket you’ll enjoy the future of fashion at its best and a pretty amazing party, too!
Nicole Chhuom is a native of Columbus, OH, and a graduate of West High School.
The CCAD Fashion Show is an annual fundraising event that showcases the talent of graduating Columbus College of Art & Design Fashion Design Seniors. This popular event sells out every year and this blog is a portal through which to view the behind-the-scenes goings on.