Friday, June 12, 2009

DAAP honors distinguished alumnus | The Fashion Dungjen

Fashion shows are very serious business with very serious (better, even, serious-looking) people. If you have ever seen one on TV, been in the last row or front row, on the stage or behind the stage, you can see everyone takes themselves very, very seriously.

From the crazed man behind the scenes frantically trying to dress and redress models to the most influential fashion spectator in the front row sitting calmly, waiting to be waited on, it’s a house of mayhem and chaos to showcase some of the most intricate, beautiful and calm garments created by top-notch designers.

Dressed in their best and most fashion-forward garb, students, faculty, staff and members of the general public waited in anticipation for one of the University of Cincinnati’s most glamorous events of the year.

The university’s 58th annual fashion show wowed audience members Friday, June 12 –which was also the final event of DAAP Works, a final culmination of capstone projects by graduating seniors from the College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

This year, DAAP not only used the show to bid farewell to its parting seniors, but also to recognize one of the fashion design program’s renowned alumnus, David Meister.

“I think it is very cool and I am honored [to be recognized by DAAP],” Meister said. “I had great relationships with all of my professors. My class was only about 35 students; in many ways we became our own little family.”

Living in Cincinnati during his entire pre-college life, Meister, a 1985 DAAP graduate, knew of UC’s fashion program and its acclaim. The only other school Meister entertained was the Parsons The New School for Design in New York.

“It would have been very expensive and, truthfully, I don’t know that, at 18, I was ready to move to New York,” Meister said. “After graduation, I immediately packed my bags and moved there … New York is really the only city where you can start a career in fashion.”
Although his familial roots are in Cincinnati and New York is the home to the beginning of his career, Meister now lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., with his partner, Alan Siegel and their invisible dog, Petey.

“There are very few cities that I could actually live in – possibly only Los Angeles and New York,” he said. “Cincinnati is too slow for me.”

Cincinnati isn’t the fashion capital of the world – not even close. Looking anywhere for something cutting-edge is like looking for a pair of non-designer pumps in Carrie Bradshaw’s closet. The slower-paced city with its limited exposure to high-end or designer fashion didn’t stop Meister, who has had an interest in fashion since he was 3 or 4 years old.

“I was very opinionated about what I wore and also about what others wore. I had very specific outfits, even in kindergarten – my purple bell bottoms, white belt and red and white floral shirt – very groovy – or so I thought at the time,” Meister said. “Then I saw Cher on TV and I was sold.”

Once Meister moved to New York, things started to take off. Approximately 11 years ago, he launched his own company/clothing label, David Meister, which he also touts as the highlight of his career.

His line, which features women’s wear, is modern, sexy and timeless. His dresses and gowns are in bold hues and sassy prints with sophisticated shapes – indicative of a fun-loving, but serious personality.

“Women want ease and simplicity, but still want to look pretty and glamorous,” Meister said. “The first thing you should notice about a woman should not be her dress – it should be her.”

Meister also hopes to expand his line to include, well, any and everything. (This happens to include bridal, swimwear, furs, coats, jewelry, bags and shoes.)

Despite Cincinnati’s slower pace, Meister encourages students on a budget to let fashion into their lives.

“Have a look of your own,” he said. “Buy simple, basic pieces that can’t be identified as inexpensive or designer – black or white T-shirts, simple black pants or pencil skirt. Always spend on shoes and bags – your accessories will always be noticed. Even as a student out of school I had a pair or two of designer shoes … That’s what credit cards are for. This is the fashion business and you need to look together, polished and current.”

Meister has dressed some of Hollywood’s most fabulous women – Diane Lane, Jennifer Hudson, Sharon Stone, Felicity Huffman (who wore a fuchsia, draped jersey gown – Meister’s favorite dress to date) and Tina Fey. His clothes are also sold at high-end department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue.

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