Longtime owner of L’Apparenza was known for her ability to connect with customers and anticipate their preferences
Nancy Lattmann, a boutique owner who dressed some of the region’s most fashionable women for 39 years, died Monday at the University of Maryland hospital of pancreatic cancer. She was 78. Ms. Lattmann was born Nancy Rinaldo in Elizabeth, N.J., to Italian immigrants Ann and Matthew Rinaldo Sr. Her father was a research engineer for Exxon. Her mother was a homemaker. She was the youngest of four children.
She moved to Baltimore in 1970 with her then-husband, Bob Lattmann, and their daughters when he was transferred here for work.
Ms. Lattmann worked in a boutique as a teenager and fell in love with fashion. She dreamed of having a store of her own, realizing that ambition when she opened Stuff & Stuff in Kenilworth Bazaar in 1976. She operated the boutique there for 39 years.
“Mom saw a niche in the Baltimore retail market. There were very few highfashion boutiques that were prevalent in New Jersey and New York,” said her oldest daughter, Deborah Marshall of Ruxton. “She was sure Baltimore women wanted to wear fashionable clothes that they purchased locally. She was also sure there were those who didn’t want to wear Lilly Pulitzer all the time.”
Ms. Lattmann relocated the boutique to Pikesville from 1994 to 2002.
She changed the name to L’Apparenza in 2002, and moved to its current location in Lake Falls Village.
According to her daughters, the name is a tribute to her Italian heritage, meaning “appearances.” The store carried popular designers such as Theory, Tory Burch, Diane Von Furstenberg, Parker, Jay Godfrey and Vince.
“Through the years, the shop has been our second home,” Mrs. Marshall said.
“From the very beginning, my momtruly cared about each and every customer, and consequently most of them became friends — many became a part of our extended L’Apparenza family,” she added.
Ms. Lattmann’s youngest daughter, Nancy Baggan of Reisterstown, grew up in the boutique.
“I was a year old when my mom started her business. It was incredibly inspiring being raised by such a smart, strong, independent mother. Other girls didn’t have moms like mine, and that always made me proud,” Ms. Baggan said. “I developed a love of fashion simply by always being around the beautiful clothes my mom chose to sell.
“But fashion isn’t just about style. It’s about people, and my mom knew that better than anyone,” she said. “She reveled in making her customers look and feel great.”
Helga Surratt, president of About Faces Day Spa and Salon, who knew Ms. Lattmann for 40 years, called her “an iconic woman.”
Ms. Surratt fondly recalled watching Ms. Lattmann’s daughters grow up at the store. She remembered the laughs the two shared while working on fashion shows and at social events.
“Nancy was a connector,” she said. “She was fun-loving. She was full of life. She brought people together.”
“There was no one in business like my mom,” said another daughter, Barbara Lattmann of Pikesville. “She had a memory like no other, and there wasn’t a face she ever forgot.
“My mom developed a sense of business with an old-school mentality,” she said. “I always knew she had a unique and special way of doing things that never failed. The store was always and always will be a home away from home.”
Ms. Lattmann operated her business during a bright period for retail in Baltimore — the 1980s and early ’90s. She would often reminisce about those times when customers wouldn’t think twice about buying the entire season’s collection of a hot designer or indulge in splurge purchases on a whim.
“There will never be another time like the shop-till-you-drop era of fashion,” she once told a Baltimore Sun reporter visiting the store. “I miss those times.”
Ms. Lattmann was known for her ability to connect with customers by remembering details about their personal lives and anticipating their preferences. That’s a goal business owners strive for, said Pascale Lemaire, a Washington-area celebrity stylist who worked with Ms. Lattmann for almost two decades.
“Nancy was a remarkable person,” Ms. Lemaire said. “She was always savvy and on top of things and as sharp as a tack.
“Her mind was like a Rolodex,” she said. “She knew all her clients by name. She knew all their children and where they went to school. And she knew all of their clothing preferences. She remembered all of those things about people.
“I’m going to miss Nancy being in back of that counter drinking her iced tea,” Mrs. Lemaire said.
Ms. Lemaire recalled once going to Liberatore’s with Ms. Lattmann for drinks. She said the two were barely able to carry on a conversation because Ms. Lattmann kept getting approached by customers and friends.
“It took us 20 minutes to leave,” she said. “They all stopped her to talk. Everyone knew her.”
Ms. Lattmann loved to entertain. She would fill her home during her annual holiday party and enjoyed dining at regional restaurants. She also loved to be around family.
“Sundays were reserved for family, and she loved holding court all day around the pool at her daughter’s house with every member of the family in attendance,” Mrs. Marshall said. “They were her favorite days.”
Ms. Lattmann also enjoyed vacationing with family in Florida, Bethany Beach and the Bahamas.
A funeral Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. today at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
In addition to her daughters, Ms. Lattmann is survived by an older brother, Donald William Rinaldo of Mountain Side, N.J.; and seven grandchildren.
She and her husband divorced in 1985. Nancy Lattmann’s daughters grew up working with their mother in the store.