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Star Studded Resume

The wonderfully named creative director and stylist Mimi Lombardo says she likes to look forward, not back, and has some exciting projects in the wings. But Mimi has a lavish portfolio that must be celebrated and so, for the benefit of our readers, our Guest Editor Denise persuaded her to share her stellar achievements to date along with a glimpse of her gameplan for the future.

I’m New York born and raised, and I’ve loved fashion since I was little, when I used to play dress-up with my Barbie Dolls. But it was getting my first Minolta 35mm camera that brought me to the work I do now. I bought the camera myself when I was working at a part time retail job.  I was a 17-year-old a senior in high school.
I would take my camera to see new wave bands in New York and hang out with my photography friends. But that’s as far as it got because photography wasn't an acceptable career path in my family.
Then I had a lightbulb moment! I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) with thoughts of becoming a retail buyer. I really enjoyed my time at FIT, and I did well.  I earned a degree in Buying & Merchandising and then achieved a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Communications.
Somewhere along the way I became aware of the role of stylist, which was the perfect marriage of my two loves, photography, and fashion.

Mimi looking 'on trend'
Mimi looking 'on trend'

I just loved the idea of working with photography and being in a less buttoned-up environment. After college I tried my best to figure out how to get into styling. I worked as an assistant and then after a few years did an internship at Mirabella Magazine where I worked with Elizabeth Stewart, who now is the top stylist in LA.
Elizabeth moved on after a few months to The New York Times Magazine and asked me to work on the team there for a few weeks. Amazingly, those few weeks became years! I was so lucky to work in the late 90’s – early noughties, at a time when magazines were flourishing, and we were all wildly creative and had an outlet to express that vibe.

A New York Times shoot styled by Mimi
A New York Times shoot styled by Mimi

My next port of call was Fashion Director at Travel+Leisure magazine – which was so different from my previous role.  I travelled the globe doing cover shoots and inside stories, infusing the magazine with light touches of fashion and style with the traveler in mind.
Since Travel+Leisure was owned by Amex, I had to keep in mind what specifically appealed to the reader – as opposed to NYT, where the audience was captive, and we could dream up and execute almost any idea within reason. After nine years at T+L, I became Editor in Chief of Haute Living magazine, which was a luxury regional glossy. Here, I gained experience in interviewing celebrities, writing feature stories, overseeing a small team and generally managing all magazine content.
I interviewed Jada Pinkett Smith, Matthew Broderick, Andrew Bolton (MET Costume Institute) and Aerin Lauder to name just a few.

Jada Pinkett, interviewed by Mimi for Haute Living
Jada Pinkett, interviewed by Mimi for Haute Living

I also was the Fashion Director for Ritz Carlton magazine for three years which took me all over the globe, including the Middle East to shoot fashion spreads for their ‘in-room’ magazine for guests to enjoy.

Cover of Ritz Carlton magazine, styled by Mimi
Cover of Ritz Carlton magazine, styled by Mimi

Being in the fashion business and having to travel extensively has made me acknowledge the importance of style, quality and heritage, and of creations that were crafted to last. This is where Gladstn London ticks all the boxes for me. My favourite piece from the collection has to be the Carte Blanche in luxury leather handbags in Santorini blue or Tuscan Sunset orange. It adds that perfect accent for jeans and a blazer, which is how I dress. I love the multicolour guitar-style strap, too, which adds a pop of colour. 

Carte Blanche in Santorini, a favourite style for Mimi
Carte Blanche in Santorini, a favourite style for Mimi

A big change happened in 2016. I became self-employed, and since then I’ve worked in a variety of genres from writing to styling to producing photoshoots, with products ranging from soup to nuts! As a freelance consultant I’ve worked on styling photo campaigns for Kenneth Cole and e-commerce for Bergdorf Goodman. I’ve worked with a fair number of celebrities, like my January cover for Genlux with Lindsey Vonn. I’m a regular contributor to Genlux magazine and I’ve produced a fashion story every two months.  Last year I styled the celebrated actor Matthew Modine for The Rake, and it’s great to have that in my portfolio.

Creative inspirations could come from a movie, fashion show or a biography that’s currently in the zeitgeist. It needs to be something people are talking about, or an inspo that means something inherently to me.  For instance, when I was at T magazine, I did a story inspired by iconic artist and musician Patti Smith, who I was a major fan of when I was young.
I traveled quite a bit before the pandemic. I was sent to India for Travel+Leisure early on and to Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah for The Ritz Carlton magazine. Currently, travel has leveled off although I did just go to Milan (below) for the men's shows on behalf of World Bride magazine this January. I have come to love traveling. It’s such an eye-opening experience. You see that beauty is everywhere and that as humans, we are basically the same.

The coveted red carpet. All stylists aspire to the red carpet! I styled Gail Simmons from Top Chef for the Emmys for six years, which was profile building and really fun, because she’s such a great person.  In terms of celebrities, last year I was Joy Mangano’s stylist on the show America's Big Deal. I adored working with her too.
Celebrating psychology. When working with celebrities, my philosophy is not to approach an individual and impose my thoughts on them. Fashion is about bringing out what is inside a person’s psyche, so I try to get to know the person and interpret what they want to wear, what they want to look like. It's very different from working with models. Models put on what you give them based on the ethos of the shoot. Celebs are expressing who they are with what they wear so you need to get to know them and take it from there.

A shoot for Genelux styled by Mimi, photographed by Arthur Belebeau
A shoot for Genelux styled by Mimi, photographed by Arthur Belebeau

The favourites in my closet. Naturally, working in the world of fashion, I have some pieces that I cherish, like my Bulgari ring and my Hermes tote bag. I don’t dress up as much these days and I believe that goes for many people. I like to wear a great-fitting pair of jeans from Rag & Bone and a nice sweater from ALC or Helmut Lang, or a blazer from Veronica Beard. I have a bold-patterned blanket coat from Le Superbe which I adore but people really stop and admire it when I wear it – so I only wear it if I want to be noticed!

I shop on contemporary floors like the 5th floor at Saks or Bergdorf Goodman. I have a great pair of loafers from Ferragamo but mostly I wear sneakers. My work is very active and whether I’m shopping or on set, I need to be agile and can’t be inhibited by a pair of weird shoes. I also walk a lot and take the subway – another reason to be comfy and mobile. 
Channeling Chanel. I try to find something positive in all the fashion brands and designers. But I love Chanel because it has such a classic French vibe and I admire the way they handle their business; their PR team are excellent. Really, I love Paris and anything French. I’m not sure what it is but maybe because it has such a rich fashion history and Chanel embodies that.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris as captured by Mimi
The Eiffel Tower in Paris as captured by Mimi

Staying grounded. I have a family and live in Brooklyn with my husband and 21 and 17-year-old kids. We have a big house (and three chickens!) and we usually cook and have friends over. If I’m out and about I may meet a friend at the Baccarat Hotel in midtown which is the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever been in. Or I’ll meet a friend for lunch at Bergdorf Goodman’s café. In Brooklyn our go-to restaurant is Werkstatt.
 Forward not backward. I worked on so many conceptual photo stories for The New York Times and T magazine, but it was pre digital, so I only have those stories in my print archive. Generally speaking, though, I prefer to look forward not backward. I believe if you sit on your past glories, then you’re not living your life fully. So, I’m putting down plans to launch an accessory collection, starting with a woven cloth bag. 
I have an agency, Defacto Inc, that handles my work and I’m looking to work with more celebrities.  I’m also open to working in other industries and I'm exploring that right now. So, for me, it’s onwards and upwards!

Mimi kindly shared her story with Denise Barrett, Guest Editor and
author of Handbag Homage

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