The designer last week moved to an 11,000-square-foot office and showroom space at 550 Seventh Avenue. It is an environment he knows well. Fifteen years ago, Meister, whose business is owned by Kellwood, worked in the same building, designing evening dresses for He-Ro Group’s Oleg Cassini Silk division.
The building “was always something of an icon for me with Geoffrey, Bill and Oscar based there,” said Meister, 43. “Now, I have an entire floor. It’s wild.”
The showroom, four times the size of his previous digs at 214 West 39th Street and previously occupied by Cynthia Rowley, offers a suitable backdrop to his growing business, which, since launching evening dresses in 1997, has expanded into day dresses, sportswear and custom-made red-carpet-skewing gowns.
Designed by Meister and architectural firm Harris Smith Design, the showroom is clean and Zen-like with concrete floors, soft white walls, brushed chrome and glass tables and plasma TV screens. The entry area features a sleek Christian Liaigre bench, and the offices are furnished with Liaigre and Knoll pieces.
“I wanted the space to be very modern, sleek and sexy, but still very simple,” Meister said. “It’s all about the mixtures of simple textures.”
The showroom will devote equal space to Meister’s signature dress business and his fast-growing sportswear division, which launched at retail 18 months ago.
“We were totally outgrowing our other space,” said Penny Aschkenasy, president of ENC, the Kellwood division that includes the Meister, Sangria and Studio Ease brands. “We are growing rapidly and increasing staff.”
Aschkenasy said the sportswear division has been well received, and it is driving the growth of the overall business.
“There is a huge opportunity and we see it working,’’ said Aschkenasy, who declined to disclose sales or projections. “The sportswear started with 20 doors, now we are in 100 doors.”
The dress division accounts for 60 percent of sales and is sold in 380 stores. Aschkenasy said she anticipates the ratio to sportswear to level in 2006. By 2007, she hopes for sportswear to exceed dress sales.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"