The beauty force and style legend reveals her no-nonsense approach to good living
Linda Rodin just gets better with age. Over her four-decade career in the fashion industry, the immensely striking 67 year old—known for her tousled chignon, red lips, and statement glasses—opened the first boutique in SoHo, worked as a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, and styled everyone from Gisele Bündchen to Bob Dylan. In 2007, she stumbled upon her latest, greatest gig as a beauty-industry guru with a wildly successful line of products, including the liquid gold–like Olio Lusso face oil. Photographed here in the Royal Suite at The Carlyle, she discusses the allure of Italy, her surprisingly non-existent fitness and beauty regimes, and—against her better judgment—the products she has in the pipelines.
An Eye for Fashion
In my late 20s, I worked for the photographer Gosta Peterson. I wanted to be a fashion photographer, and it was my sister, a fine-art photographer, who told me, “You know, you take the worst pictures, but you get really good clothes.” This was 1977. We didn’t even know that styling was a job.
If You Make It, They Will Come
Working as a stylist with all the best hair and makeup people, I was privy to everything. After shoots, I’d run to Ricky’s or Barneys to try a new product, and I realized there was nothing I liked. So I started making stuff myself. I’d get all these oils from health food stores and mix them in a coffee mug in my bathroom—and it all just fell together. There was no plan. I just started bringing the elixirs to photo shoots, and everyone loved them.
What do I do for exercise? I walk the dog. I’ve tried three times in my life to workout and every time I hurt my back. So I don’t workout anymore, but I do eat healthy. I just prefer the taste of organic avocados and tomatoes and salmon to junk food. But I’m not a nut. I don’t torture the waiter at the restaurant about who killed the cow, and occasionally, I’ll have McDonald’s fries. You’ve got to live. Beauty-wise, I’m really simple too, which is how this whole thing originated. The quicker it is to get out the door, the better. I just want to cleanse my face, put on oil, and apply lipstick—which I’ll be introducing in February, though I’m not sure I’m allowed to say that.
Dreams of Italy
If I ever moved out of New York, it would be to Rome. I have friends who are Roman who say, “You don’t want to move here; we’ve been here for 10 generations and we still can’t get a phone line installed.” But I lived in Italy on-and-off for three years beginning when I was 18—first Florence, where I learned perfect Italian, then Milan, where I worked in an art gallery, and then Rome, where I had a boyfriend and didn’t do much else. I’ve been an Italophile ever since. I love everything about that country.
Always on the Go
I don’t love to travel—mainly because I don’t like to leave my dog Winky—but I’ve been doing it a lot lately. Recently I was in London, Minnesota, Dallas… I also just got back from a 10-day trip to Japan. We stayed at a traditional ryokan in Kyoto, where we slept on tatami mats and had a 15-course meal in our room. I just loved it. It’s such a civilized, simple, and profound culture. At some point, I’d like to see the pyramids and the sphinx, and I’d also like to go to Scotland. I love the accents and the literature. And it’s so close. Five hours. You can get there quicker than you can get up uptown.
A Day in the Life
On weekends I love to go to the flea market on 25th and Broadway. It’s not what it used to be, but I still always find something. From there, I always think I’ll check out some galleries, but I end up at Comme des Garçons and then I go home. Bemelmans is one of my favorite places for a drink. I don’t go out much, but back in the day, we would go at like 5 o’clock, or even earlier because it’s so dark in there, you think it’s midnight. It’s just a cozy hideaway that you think nobody else knows about, but of course everybody does.
Makeup Allie Smith
Hair Melisande Jadoulle
Photography assistant John “Duck” Feeney