Legendary fashion stylist Linda Rodin didn't set out to become a beauty maven but now her Rodin Olio Lusso is a best-seller. With a successful career in fashion (including over two decades styling Victoria's Secret shoots), Linda became interested in oils when she began using them on her own skin instead of creams and lotions. She would pick up some argan oil in Morocco or calendula from South Africa. Then started mixing her cult-favorite Rodin Olio Lusso by hand in a coffee cup on the ledge of her bathroom sink. She started handing it out to friends and colleagues. Only, Linda's friends and colleagues are gorgeous supermodels and fashion insiders, who loved Olio Lusso so much that Linda began spending all her free time blending the eleven essential oils. "I only did three bottles at a time, and one weekend, I made 500," she says. "But it wasn't until my nephew Nick said I should start selling that the idea for the beauty line was born." Here, Linda lets Beautylish into her New York City apartment (where Olio Lusso was first created!) and shares her story of how she went from fashionista to beauty entrepreneur.
Q: When did you start using essential oils?
I've always been attracted to oils. I used rosehip seed oil for years to take spots away and evening primrose oil on my chapped elbows. It just never occured to me that I could mix all the oils together. Then five years ago, I was in Rome with a friend who was pregnant. We went to the store and bought hundreds of creams and mixed them together in a pot. We wanted to find something to slather on her belly. But then her husband came home and said 'What are you doing in here? It smells in the hall!' He made us throw out our concoction.
Q: So you started off blending your own oils?
I would buy oils from health food stores and online. I would read the reviews and randomly buy them and mix them together. It wasn't until I had hand surgery and my nephew Nick—who came to take care of me—said that I should start selling the oil that I thought about turning it into a business. He bought me beakers to use instead of my coffee cup.
Q: Rodin Olio Lusso smells amazing—what gives it that gorgeous scent?
It's the jasmine and neroli. But I put them in because they're good for the skin, not because of their smell. Olio Lusso's fragrance just came naturally from the blend of oils.
Q: Your apartment reminds me of a treasure chest under the sea. How many shells do you have?
I love shells and my favorite color is turquoise. I also love anything with sparkle. I like to go to antique shops and I can't stop buying things!
Q: As a fashion stylist, what's your typical day like?
I usually get up at 9am, rinse my face with warm water, apply my oil, walk Winky my poodle, and have coffee at Le Pain Quotidien. Then I'll prep for a job by going to showrooms, Barneys, Albright Fashion Library, or Bergdorfs. I don't do much editorial anymore so I don't go to that many showrooms. I'll go to every store looking for clothes from 9-5. I can buy or rent the clothes—it depends on the job's budget and the store. Saks and Barneys have a studio service where you can borrow the clothes. All stylists do the same thing. I see people I know. At 5pm, I'll go home and walk Winky. I always have a glass of white wine when I get home. I eat very early and go to bed very early. I'll go to an opening if it's at 7, but if dinner's at 9, I won't be there. I need to sleep at least nine hours.
Q: What's the Albright Fashion Library?
It's a great place where you can borrow clothes. They'll have Lanvin from today and an outfit Cher wore in the '60s.
Q: How did you start your career as a stylist?
I wanted to be a fashion photographer. My sister said 'You don't really take good pictures, but you do get great clothes for the pictures. Maybe you should give up being a photographer.' So I decided to open up a clothing shop in 1979. It was called Linda Hopp and it was the first boutique in SoHo. I also designed clothes. That lasted for a year. The only real job I ever had was as an editor at Harper's Bazaar. But it wasn't for me. I left and went freelance over 20 years ago and I don't regret it.
Q: Aside from Rodin Olio Lusso, what other beauty products do you use?
I have a pink Shu Uemura lip pencil that's discontinued. I got the last 20. Makeup artist Fulvia Farolfi gave me this gorgeous Chanel lipstick that I've been wearing. Rouge Allure in Insolente. I look best in pink. I always think I look older in red. The older I get, the more natural I am with my makeup. I can't believe used to wear white face powder, blue-red lipstick, and had my hair in a '20s bob!
Q: Speaking of your hair, how long has it been this signature silver?
I used to henna my hair and one day my hair was pink. The henna made my white hair look pink! I was 32 and that's when I decided to stop dyeing my hair. Now I use Clairol Shimmerlights shampoo and conditioner to keep it bright. I have really curly hair and I relax it. A hairstylist friend comes over to my apartment and gives me the Brazilian keratin treatment. I won't let anyone see me with my hair down because I think it makes me look like a witch. And I don't want to look like an older woman with short hair, so I just apply some Olio Lusso hair oil in the morning, let it air dry, and then pin it up.
Q: How about diet and exercise? Have you picked up any tips from the Victoria's Secret supermodels?
I'm 63 and older than some of those girls' mothers! I eat very healthy. I didn't eat meat for 40 years and then one day I got terrible vertigo. I got out of bed and fell flat on the floor. I was dizzy and nauseous. My acupuncturist said that I was too low in iron, so now I'll have a big steak once a month. Also, I have to walk for work. When people ask me what I do for exercise, I say: 'I run through Barneys.'
Q: What fashion tips do you have for Beautylish Beauties?
Don't be too trendy. Trendy is a downfall. I've been wearing the same denim jacket for 20 years, and I'll update it with a new bag. Being too stylish is not that great. Never wear a designer look from head to toe.
For a tour of Linda Rodin's apartment (how many seashells do you see?) and more pictures of Linda (with her poodle Winky too!), check out the album below.