By  on March 1, 2005

NEW YORK — Instead of touting his many milestones in the fashion business, Oleg Cassini used his most recent honor to clue in admirers to the secret of his longevity.

After picking up an award of distinction from the Lotos Club here Wednesday, the 91-year-old designer offered some self-help to the crowd. “How to keep yourself living for a long time is a delicate subject,” he said. “There are certain ways to live longer — definitely. Most people don’t know them. They give up.”

He encouraged guests to recognize that life is a struggle from the moment you are born, and a struggle all the way through, but to face the challenge.

Perseverance, a healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate rest might sound rudimentary, but an engaging mind is essential, Cassini said. “I have a healthy diet, I am an athlete, I have ideas worth living for and I like people,” he said.

Cassini noted that for years he ran from his Gramercy Park home to his 57th Street office. “I’m saying this not because I have an ego. I would like it to have some resonance with you.”

An accomplished equestrian, tennis player and golfer who picked up harness racing at the age of 80, Cassini said teaching cowboys in the First Cavalry how to ride Army style remains a career highlight.

“That is what I’m proudest of in all my life — not the dresses, not the girls,” he said. Reached Monday, the limber designer said he received many calls from attendees who wanted more specifics about his healthy regimen. So much so, that he is considering writing a book.

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