Date Archives April 2010

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

The Amazing Ilona Royce Smithkin

[Photos Ari Seth Cohen/Text Maayan Zilberman]

One of the things we love most about living in New York is meeting gems like 90 year old Ilona Royce Smithkin while going about our day. Ari met this beautiful lady on the street recently and insisted I meet her to discuss our mutual interests in painting, dancing, and making our own lingerie.What most first notice about Ilona are her long eyelashes that she crafts out of her own flashy red hair. With a youthful figure and delightful ease in conversation, its obvious she is also a performer with plenty to tell.
I’ll be sitting down with Ilona this weekend to discuss it in detail.

Stay tuned for tips on making your own clothes, how to balance careers, and who should wear false eyelashes..

Helga The Queen Of Charm

When Smilla first sent me photos of Helga, ” The Queen of Charm” I was awe struck by her beauty and style. I couldn’t wait til she’d have the opportunity to interview and visit the home of this fascinating lady.

Smilla writes,”On Friday I visited her; The lady of the block. Planned since a long time it finally came true, and I definitely can say that one visit won’t be enough to explore the world of this extraordinary women. She told me many things and showed me quite a lot. We talked about this and that and the other, and than we came back to the beginning.

Please check out Smilla’s Post for some more information on Helga:

Debra Rapoport in New York Magazine

Debra Rapoport
Upper East Side Your style would stand out even on Madison Avenue. What’s going on with this outfit?
This is made with bits and pieces from my supply closet, things I’ve been collecting for 30 to 40 years, including ribbons, fabrics, old candles, zippers … I’ve always dressed up, but as an older person I’m certainly not going to start dressing down, because it feeds me. You must get all sorts of reactions on the street.
Oh, yes, and since I have pink hair, then, you know, a lot of kids look at me and point, and a lot of older women look at me and smile. I use style as an art form, and also as a healing form, because I believe that when you’re creative with your Self—capital S—then you are very fulfilled.My dear friend Debra Rapoport, who has been appeared on Advanced Style, was featured in today’s issue of New York Magazine check out the article below and remember you can email her at !