Linda Rodin: Skincare Maven

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Linda Rodin
Linda RodinPhotography by Sean Donnola

We meet model and skincare-doyenne Linda Rodin to discuss the bloom of late success and mixing her first beauty products in her bathroom

With her silver hair tied up in a loose chignon and elegant, drawn out features, the 66-year-old former model, stylist and skincare maven Linda Rodin resembles a Modigliani beauty come to life. She is also the best advertisement for her cult beauty brand, Rodin Olio Lusso which, since its inception in 2008, has been garnering raves from industry insiders and celebrities alike for its artisanal ingredients and the seemingly transformative properties of her potions. Born 30 minutes outside of New York to a "glamorous but kooky" mother who ran an antiques business, Rodin moved to Italy at 18 to follow a boyfriend where she fell into modelling for 3 years. Returning to New York, she held a procession of jobs – running her own store, working at Rizzoli, as a photographer and at an art gallery – before becoming a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar. “But I was only there for 10 months,” she shrugs, “I didn’t like the magazine world much.” She would eventually go freelance, working with everyone from Herb Ritts, Ellen Von Unwerth, Madonna, Gisele Bundchen to the Victoria’s Secret campaigns. Years of trying every beauty product on the market would eventually inspire her to create one of her own. “It all started as a lark really!” she gasps at the memory of it all. “I thought, I’m just going to go to the health food store and buy oils that I’d been following – like Argan, Primrose Oil, Calendula and I thought, “Hey, I’m just going to put all this together and maybe it’s going to work. So I ended up with eleven oils and I just started mixing it in the bathroom in a coffee cup. I found bottles online and brought them to photo shoots. Everyone on set just loved it!” So much so, that she would soon find herself as a one-woman assembly line, concocting hundreds of bottles in her bathroom on weekends. She laughs, “It was a little like ‘I Love Lucy’ but a bit neater than that!”

“I want to expand but on a very niche level...I just want to make things that I need – things that I want” — Linda Rodin

With the help of a business-savvy nephew and a factory in New Jersey where she still personally approves every product, Rodin Olio Lusso now sells at luxury retailers like Net-a-Porter, Barneys, and The Line and has expanded beyond its original remit to include a lip balm, cleanser, hand crema, candle, soap bar and hair oil made in collaboration with hairdressing legend, Bob Recine. “I want to expand but on a very niche level,” she insists, “I just want to make things that I need – things that I want.” The brand’s triumph has also given a new lease of life to her modelling career, which was kickstarted when Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen featured her in the lookbook for The Row A/W13. “They knew about me and I loved their clothes. I was very proud to do it. They were smart, beautiful clothes.” Since then, she’s gone on to model for J. Crew, Karen Walker and Ari Seth Cohen’s cult blog, Advanced Style, echoing other ageless icons like Carmen Dell'Orefice and Iris Apfel. She confesses, “I love the attention – I’ve been on the other side of the modelling thing for so long. But sometimes I get angry like, “What took you so long? I had no wrinkles until I was 60 and now you’re photographing me when I’m an old bag!” I guess they say better late than never right?” For Rodin, the late bloom of success tastes sweeter still. “I’m proud of myself - it’s rewarding. The stars have aligned for me in a very good way. It shows you can try things and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Text by Kin Woo