Inside Design :: Joan Shum

Do you ever wish? I wish little. I wish big. I wish often. Joan Shum makes me wish I could go back in time and choose a different wedding dress. One of hers. When I think back to our wedding day, I have nothing but blissful memories; there is not a lot I would change, except my dress. I liked it, but I didn’t love it.

I am just over the moon thrilled with today’s post. Remember last week’s Happy Spring Happy Easter board? And the whimsical wedding dress that inspired it? I was so intoxicated by the beauty of the dress and the intricacy of the design that I contacted the designer, Joan Shum. She has been more than gracious in answering a few questions and sharing a few pictures so we can get to know her, her talents, and her inspirations.

Blush :: Tell us about you.
Joan :: I was born in Hong Kong and came to the States when I was 6 years old. There are nine girls and two boys in my family and yes, from the same mom and dad. I am also a twin. Growing up with such a big family I have to say I was never bored. My stomp’n grounds while growing up was all over Los Angeles. I went to three different high schools before, finally, attending a design school to follow my dreams. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles I worked in the heart of the fashion district in downtown LA, on and off, for about 15 years before I decided to venture off on my own. I now design out of my studio in Long Beach where I also live with my husband of 10 years. Our only child, sad to say, is our very bad dog named Jackjack, a Russell Terrier. We call him that because he can’t seem to get along with anybody. Ironically, he is the biggest cuddler in the world.


Blush :: Tell us the story of how your career in sewing/designing began. Where did the passion evolve?
Joan :: Looking through fashion magazines, going shopping at the mall, learning about fabrics, and following fashion couturiers influenced my choice to be a fashion designer. I love fashion. Fashion has been, and always will be, my life. My interest in fashion and fashion designing began at a very young age. I want to say 10 years old. My sister and her husband, at that time, were sewing contractors. I had worked there for a short period of time. I did not sew though; the industrial sewing machines scared the bajeezes out of me! The ironic thing about this whole fashion-designing thing is that I rarely make my own clothes. There is a saying, ‘designers never have any clothes’. I simply do not have the time when I am always designing for someone else. I figured after buying the fabric and putting in the labor, it’s just cheaper to buy the clothes. The passion evolved while moving from one design company to the next.

{Lady Catherine}

Blush :: What inspired you to leave the LA fashion industry and go on your own?
Joan :: My first job was with a company that designed women’s sportswear. It was more of an intern job; learning the ropes about how everything is produced from A to Z. After working fifteen years for everyone else, I wanted to design for myself. I think my brain literally exploded one day from thinking too much. I was fresh out of ideas for the company I was working for; I just wasn’t inspired by the kind of clothes they were making. What I really wanted to design was beautiful things. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from the industry and made great friends along the way but it was time to get out.

{Bella Tea}

Blush :: Your dresses are stunning; what inspires your designs?
Joan :: For all my life I have been inspired by one particular kind of fashion. That’s Haute Couture. Unquestionably, Haute Couture is the masterpiece of art in fashion. It knows no racism and has no cultural differences. The blend of unprecedented techniques with brilliant creative designs and the use of lavish fabrics that seduces fashion lovers everywhere, it is the ultimate in eye-candy.

{Love in the Mist}

Blush :: Why wedding dresses?
Joan :: Before I even considered designing wedding gowns for myself, as a business, I actually wanted to get into costume design for period films. I simply love how regal and stylish the fashions are. It wasn’t until I made my sister’s wedding dress that I seriously thought about designing wedding gowns. I thought… if I could bring together my love for costumes and my love for wedding gowns, I could fulfill my creative needs by transforming historic fantasy ball gowns into the wedding gowns of my dreams, and the dreams of my brides.

{White Dahlia}

Blush :: Do you hand make those magnificent corsets?
Joan :: As you can see in all my work, influences of corsetry are alive in most of my designs. My corsets are all hand-made by me. All my brides are measured with nine different body measurements before I start making their specific patterns. Usually, I have three fittings before creating the perfect fit.

{Lady of the Valley}

When you aren’t designing what do you love to do? :: I love to paint. My medium is water and ink.
What is your greatest indulgence? :: In fashion: I treated myself to a vintage couture gown from a shop in Beverly Hills called
Lily et Cie . In food: it would have to be chocolate soufflé In travel: every year I go to Maui
Your favorite place to shop? :: Lily et Cie in Beverly Hills. Celebrities from all over the world go to them for an Oscar gown. There are seamstresses on premise for alterations. They have the most fabulous vintage couture in Los Angeles.
Your favorite word? :: Edgy. I don’t know why
Your perfect day? :: Getting up late, work out, and eat healthy
If they did a movie of your life, what actress would play you? :: Lucy Liu. She is beautiful and talented
Your favourite gift to receive? :: I like to get vintage jewelry
Your favourite gift to give? :: I like to give a copy of my paintings as a gift
Your secret wish? :: I wish I could be a philanthropist

Blush :: What are you excited about right now?
Joan :: I am excited about my new collection.

I am so honoured to share this with you - Joan has provided a sneak peek into her new collection, due to launch in late April.


You may contact Joan through her
Website or her Etsy Shop.

Thank you Joan, so much.

1 comment:

Mimi Jackson said...

Fabulous work. I am so impressed!