Real Style With David Meister

Fashion designer David Meister
Fashion designer David Meister

Fashion designer David Meister has dressed everyone from Academy Award nominee Viola Davis to Dr. Jill Biden to funnywoman Tina Fey. And he’s probably on a very short list of high-end dress designers who create clothing for women of all body types. David’s line ranges in size from 0 to 24. From the Grammys to the Emmys to the Oscars, there isn’t an awards show or red carpet event that happens without a few of his designs showing up on the step-and-repeat.

The designer made an appearance this past weekend at Neiman Marcus in Tysons Galleria in the Washington, D.C.-area, to unveil his spring 2012 signature collection. S&P had a chance to sitdown with David for a candid conversation about his latest line, who’s his favorite celebrity to work with and much more:

What inspired your spring 2012 collection?

It’s always about a lot of color. Women love color for spring. It’s about taking simple shapes and making them a little more special. I definitely believe in simple and clean shapes. The whole point to me is that good design has a timelessness to it.

David Meister Signature Collection Spring 2012
David Meister Signature Collection Spring 2012

So, if you buy a dress now and if it’s well-designed, when you pull it out in five or six years it should still look beautiful and be wearable. That to me is the sign of good design. If you buy something this year and you pull it out of your closet in eight months and it’s like ‘Emmm, I don’t know about that,’ that’s really not what good design is about.

You dress a lot of celebrities on the red carpet. With that said, who would you say is the quintessential David Meister woman?

Oh my gosh — quintessential — we dress so many different people. We did a lot for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for spring and their both very different body types. We really dress many different types of people. On the red carpet, we dress people from size 0 to 24. To me everybody has a good asset. It’s knowing what to detract from and what to play up. It’s not necessarily about being a size two. No matter the size, if it’s the right dress you can look amazing and if it’s the wrong dress it could be a disaster.

Picking my favorite celebrity, though — that’s tough. I would have to say that my favorite is Sharon Stone. She has an amazing body and is so smart. When she puts on a dress and steps out on the red carpet it’s like pandemonium. No one can work a dress on the red carpet like her, it’s scary. It’s like ‘Get out of the way, Ms. Stone is here.’ She loves clothes and really understands them, so that’s why it’s cool to work with her because she is really into it. I love working with her.

David Meister Signature Collection Spring 2012
David Meister Signature Collection Spring 2012

A lot of high-end designers are deciding to team up with mass retailers. Would you ever consider doing a diffusion line?

I think doing something with a store like Target is amazing. It’s always done in such a cool and interesting way. I don’t think it compromises the brand, it just adds another dimension. That’s what’s key when you do it. You want to do it in a way that enhances and not something like ‘OK. You’re just making kind of cheap stuff.’ In that case, I think it’s detrimental. But in general, I think it’s amazing what some of the retailers have done. H&M and Target have been doing a lot of this and they both do it very well.

If that opportunity came around, would you just do gowns and cocktail dresses or would you branch out into women’s sportswear, too?

We talk about doing sportswear — that’s a possibility. We’re currently working on different licenses for bridal and swim, and trying to put that together. So if that opportunity were to come along, I’d be very open.

For budget fashionistas who want that red carpet glamour look, what style advice would give them?

I think if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, look for something fairly simple that you can wear many times that can be changed up each time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be black, but just something simple. You could wear it simple and plain or with a lot of jewelry. One time you might wear a metallic shoe with it, then the next you might wear a red shoe. I definitely say go for something that you can get multiple wears from.

Think of it this way, when you buy a piece like a hot pink gown, after you wear it once people are going to be like ‘Oooh, she’s in that hot pink gown, again,’ and you don’t want that. So go for something that’s timeless, simple and fits beautifully. Then, you can really work it in a lot of different ways with accessories and shoes.

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***Want more fashion tips from the pros? Check out our ‘Real Style’ Q&A archive.

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