The Legendary Hilda Longinotti

As Maayan mentioned in the previous post, the great thing about New York is the opportunity to meet such amazing people, even on the street. The other today I had an incredible run in with design world superstar Hilda Longinotti, an Architectural and Design Liaison for Herman Miller. I didn’t know about her career but admired her wonderful style and especially her red sunglasses. Hilda, 78, told me that she’d love to be the face of T.J. Maxx, in fact The Diva of T.J. Maxx as she buys most of what she wears there and is constantly complimented on her style. She told me that you don’t have to wear Chanel to be in style, that good design doesn’t necessarily mean expensive design.

Everything she was wearing was from T.J. Maxx except the sunglasses which are about 45 years old. Hilda’s favorite colors are red, orange and chartreuse. When I asked her if she had any style advice for young generations she said, “Set yourself apart from the crowd, young people need to find their zone. Style is an evolution, a process.”I hear a lot about the process of finding one’s style from the people I talk to and how with age they have grown to know what they look and feel good in.

After we talked a bit Hilda invited me up to the Herman Miller design showroom and I had the privilege to take her photo amongst some of the world’s best designed furnishings. It was an extraordinary experience. Here is an expert from an article about Hilda from Metropolis Magazine:

I started out as George’s(Nelson’s) receptionist. I think it paid $55 a week. They were so thrilled with me that the designers completely redesigned the reception area, and they made the colors of the space complement me—behind me was a purple felt wall with an orange-and-white Howard Miller clock and the Herman Miller daybed. It was amazing. Whenever they needed to take photographs of anything, they would march me to the roof, and I was the in-house model for all of the prototypes: the Coconut chair, the Marshmallow sofa—whatever they were designing that needed a body, I would sit on it.

Every Monday there were project meetings. Everyone would sit at this huge table, and George would attend. They’d go through the projects, where they were going, the billings, et cetera. In ’62 I bought an old gate house in Whitestone, and Dolores Engle and everybody else at the office was helping me withthe interiors. So one morning George said, “What is the biggest project on the boards that we have at the moment?” And some smart aleck said, “Hilda Longinotti’s house.” And he banged on the door and said, “Goddamn it! I mean paying client!” But he said it with good humor.

Hilda in ads for Herman Miller

  • Two classics, one great post!

    Now I'm going to have to go check out TJ Maxx. She got me!

  • She's lovely. Great glasses and great story.

  • Very wise style advice…and she's so pretty. Red and black should be her trademark- I've never seen anyone wear that combo so well.

  • She is GORGEOUS !

  • Carla

    amazing woman–great style! Thanks for getting the sole of the shoes shot!!! And for including advice for us!

  • Oh those red glasses!!! What a style statement for a lovely lady. Look at the shoes…how they pick up on the pattern in her necklace. Very impressive. I don't know where you find all these ageless women, Ari!

  • Anonymous

    Hilda is very beautiful!

  • She looks so good in all the red–I think as women age we need to embrace more colour, as Hilda, and others on your blog like Debra, have demonstrated. I just wish we had a TJ Maxx here in Canada. What a fascinating life she's had!

  • I am thoroughly enjoying your blog! Many great stories, and the visuals are amazing! Kudos on your work, lifestlye, and active being!

  • She's simply gorgeous!

  • She's fabulous, thank you for finding me yet another wonderful style icon (along with Lubi)!!

  • She is toooo cute.:)

  • sandra

    Work it girlfriend..and to think I was just hearing the other day that wearing Red is no longer the thing…you've convinced me that red is hot! and that you are too…

  • You really are one of the luckiest people in the world. Seeing, meeting and exploring these wonderful people and their personal contributions,simply
    fantastic work!

  • Sam

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  • 1) I love the peace signs on the bottom of Hilda's sandals!

    2) Ari, I wish you had met my Grandmother – oh she had such style and class. My mom follows right in her footsteps, she is turning 65 tomorrow, so maybe you can look her up in a decade or so ; )

    best to you!

  • Anonymous

    Look how happy she is to be back on that couch modeling for a photograph.. what a great post, and interesting subject, I can't even imagine how special you have made her feel. This makes me feel less anxious about growing old, it prooves that you can have fun with clothes feel great and know that someone out there still appreciates you. I love a story and it is so hard to find people who have one.

  • ari

    I Love HER!! I have to say that I think her strong point is accessorizing. Her necklace, sunglasses, shoes, bag – all amazing!

  • My sister and I have known Hilda for many years – living across the street from her and that wonderful gate house she speaks of in Whitestone. We loved to visit with her, have coffee (from a French press – who knew coffee could be something other than instant!). We loved everything about her – her style – her flair –her Capri pants – so Audrey Hepburn(ish) – her flair for telling a great story. We admired her then – we admire her now! What a wonderful example of today's woman – today. I’d love to pull of that red thing like she does – but then no one does it better than Hilda.

  • Tash

    What a stylish lady

  • Quite worthwhile material, thanks for your post.

  • Anonymous

    Your blog is amazing! Please keep up the fantastic work!

  • Oh Granny!Sweet granny.Love Your style.
    Thanks blogger for you nice post.

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  • luova online

    it’s nice style i love it so much