For Linda Rodin, beauty is simplicity. For us, Linda is just that: a beautiful, wise soul who has shown us—through both her enduring NYC sensibilities and innate sense of style and grace—that ageing isn’t something to be feared. Like those late night glasses of wine you live to regret on a Sunday, Linda only gets better with time.
For someone of such a small stature, Linda sure is a mighty woman. Over four decades, the eternal style icon’s resume has swelled to include “long-time stylist,” “owner of Soho’s Linda Hopp boutique,” “successful business woman,” and “creator of eponymous beauty brand, Rodin Olio Lusso.” The latter can be credited for infinitely plumping our skin, making our lips oh-so-kissable on nights out, and, most topically, sending our olfactory senses into overdrive.
While it’s her body and face oils that have given her beauty label its cult status, it’s her fragrances that have kept us coming back for more. Why? They’re considered, unique, timeless, and unlike anything else—much like Linda herself. So good are they that she wears her own Bis perfume—a 1950s-inspired fragrance influenced by her mother—every single day.
To celebrate all that is Linda Rodin (with special regard to her intoxicating fragrances), we present to you a highlights reel from one of the best ever chats to come from the digital pages of THE FILE.
Carlie Fowler: How important was it to you to create products that were on that beautiful, natural end of the spectrum?
Linda Rodin: I think it had to be that way because I made it at home in my bathroom. I didn’t really have a choice. I’m very health-conscious, I eat very well, and I eat organic when I can, but I’m not a crazy nut about things. I just can’t be. It takes up too much time to be so compulsive about that kind of thing. That doesn’t really interest me. I started by just buying oils at the health food store. It turned out that some of them were organic (all of them were essential), and I didn’t have access to chemicals to put in them—not that I would have. It was just something that I made at home. It just kind of naturally evolved that way. Then, when I made other products, I tried to keep them as pure as I could. For example, when I made my hand cream, I realised that you can’t have a hand cream without a stabiliser in it—it’ll last five minutes, so I realised I had to compromise. Since I’m not a fanatic about any of that, it was painful, but not horrible. I wanted my hand cream. I wanted to make this and that, and certain things I had more access to were all-natural, and other things weren’t, like emulsifiers and things like that. I kind of have a balance, the best balance I can have. My theory is just [to] do the best you can with everything.
CF: Rodin has grown so quickly—it’s seen so much success. How do you decide what products to make next?
LR: It’s always been a pretty selfish endeavor for me. I wanted a hand cream, I wanted a soap, I wanted a candle, I wanted a perfume. I make things that I really want. I will never make things that I don’t want. I’m not going to make gratuitous products just because I can. I’m not going to make toothpaste, for example. Certain things.
CF: Do you remember a specific moment where you thought, “I can do this. I can make money from Olio Lusso. I can take this from ‘developing oils in my home’ to ‘making this a brand’?
LR: I was a stylist for most of my life. It never occurred to me to have a business—I’m not a business woman. I don’t like business particularly. I’ve said this many times—it’s just, I never had to plan my life around anything. I never thought, I’m going to go to college. I’m going to get married. I’m going to have three kids. I’m going to be this, or that. I never had a road map for anything. Everything just happened the way it happened, and I always believed that one step would inform the next. If you try to plan something, it probably won’t work out. I’m not haphazard. I’m not a by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person, but I do go step-by-step. I didn’t make my oil for any reason other than because I needed one and I wanted one. There was no preconceived, “Okay, this is going to grow into something big.” I never, ever had that idea, intention, or thought process.
CF: What does ‘beauty’ mean to you?
LR: I think beauty is totally subjective. What I might find beautiful, people could say, “Oh, but one of her eyes is bigger than the other.” Well, so what? Imperfection is more beautiful than perfection, always, in my opinion. That’s why I don’t get that whole perfect makeup look, and the airbrushed foundation. I don’t get what that is.
CF: I’m curious to know how you’ve aged so gracefully.
LR: I look so great in some pictures, and then I look in the mirror and I know that I don’t look like that. I’ve said this all so many times: [ageing] is not really graceful. There’s nothing graceful about it. It’s not easy. I mean, I’m vain like most women, and I don’t like looking at my wrinkles. It’s almost like, “How did that happen?” At the same time, maybe about five or six years ago, I had tried filler and I said I looked worse. I couldn’t believe. I felt like I was kind of drifting into something else. Morphing into something.
CF: What does your morning beauty routine look like?
LR: One of my tag lines is “Beauty in simplicity.” I don’t spend a lot of time primping. I’m not a primper. I like to wash my face, put on my oil, and leave the house. I put on lipstick. I don’t wear face makeup of anything, but I wear lipstick. I put my hair up. I don’t want to fuss with anything and I just want to get out the door. It’s not that I’m in a rush, I just don’t like to linger. I’d rather sit in the bathtub.
CF: What is your favourite product in the range?
LR: Well, I love them all. I love my perfume, my second perfume which is an homage to my mother. It’s called Bis, B-I-S. It’s really like a 1950s classic fragrance. I wear it every day.
Words, Madeleine Woon. Photography, Soraya Zaman.