David Meister fills his day with beautiful women, bright lights, and red carpets. In his fast-paced life, he mingles with the Hollywood elite, and jet-sets to film premieres, all while solving managers’ crises such as, “So-and-so is rumored to wear the same color,” or “My actress put on five pounds.” So when the celebrity couturier has a chance, he escapes to the desert, where he rejuvenates with a glamorous dinner at Le Vallauris. During his latest retreat, Meister gave us pointers on picking holiday dresses, avoiding fashion faux pas, and handling personal red-carpet moments.
What was it like seeing your creation on a celebrity for the first time?
It was amazing. The first major celeb was Sharon Stone and no one does red carpet quite like her.
Does television do your dresses justice?
I think television and photos do most of the dresses justice, but once in a while, there is a dress where the detail or beading is lost. That is why it is so important to take a Polaroid or some quick video of the gown that someone will wear on the red carpet. It is all about how it reads on camera. If it is lost, it is a waste, and bad news for everyone.
Is picking a holiday dress the same as picking a red-carpet dress?
Everyone has her own real-life red-carpet moments. The same principles that apply to celebrities are the same that everyone should follow. It is all about fit, fit, and fit. You can have the most expensive couture gown in the world, but if it doesn’t fit, it looks terrible. Conversely, you can have an inexpensive dress and if it is impeccably tailored it can look like $1 million. You need to feel comfortable. Nothing is worse than seeing a woman pull and tug at her dress all night. Put it on and forget about it.
Of your designs, which have been your top three looks from the red carpet?
The draped, fuchsia jersey gown I did for Felicity Huffman for the Emmys; the coral stretch charmeuse gown for Alek Wek, and the red jersey gown for Ireland Baldwin for the CFDA Awards (Council of Fashion Designers of America).
What’s the ultimate fashion faux pas?
There are so many. I can’t stand it when someone wears a backless dress with her regular bra band showing. Do they think it doesn’t count if you can’t see it from the front? Panty lines — no excuse. There are undergarments for everything. This can make or break a dress. The real teeth-clincher has to be pantyhose: so not modern. If you really want to see me spin, show me a panty-hosed foot in an open-toe shoe.
How long have you been coming to Palm Springs?
For the last 20 years. We bought a ’70s Stan Sackley house about five years ago, and love it. It is everything Palm Springs should be: sexy, glam, and in your face.
What do you think is the desert’s glam factor?
I feel glamour is not something that applies to how a person looks. It is like fashion. It pervades every aspect of modern life in some form. Palm Springs glam is relaxed, with a nod to the past. All the great architecture built in the ’50s reflects that great glam factor, as do a lot of the restaurants, such as Le Vallauris, where there is always a sense of glamour and elegance.