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Linda Rodin’s Olio Lusso face oil ($170) has transcended cult-status to become one of the most coveted beauty products at the luxury level. And to think, just eight years ago, the former stylist was concocting the liquid herself (and for herself) in a coffee cup on the floor of her New York City kitchen.
She would eyeball the formula and pour in increments until the scent was to her liking. Lucky photographers and makeup artists would get little vials of the oil as gifts when Rodin arrived to set.
Her grassroots following grew to include several truly stylish celebrities including Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Michelle Williams, and Barneys and Colette are carrying Rodin’s product among their select high-end merchandise.
One acquisition (Rodin’s brand was bought by Estee Lauder in 2014) and a couple of stints as a model (for The Row, Karen Walker and J. Crew, plus as the subject of countless fashion profiles), later, the 67-year-old Rodin arguably rivals her brand for attention as a bonafide style icon known for her shock of white hair, statement eyewear and ever-present pop of bright lipstick.
It’s also the ex-stylist’s effortless approach to her look (which has undoubtedly infused the vibe of her beauty products) that makes her and her brand so darn attractive.
Now, the cult fave created on a kitchen floor has increased to scent, hair oil, hand cream and lip balm and is on track to add lip color and shampoo in the near future. Think of Rodin products as the beauty equivalent to Celine or The Row (which, by the way, Rodin wears plenty of both): understated and elegant yet glowy and luxurious, pretty much just like the woman behind all those bottles of oil – or what her fans affectionately refer to as “Liquid Gold.”
Here, Rodin discusses her mother, her style and why despite her beauty industry status, she doesn’t really love wearing much makeup at all.
Pret-a-Reporter: What is it like to be seen as a “style icon” at age 67?
Linda Rodin: What can I say? I feel very lucky. It’s a totally different thing after being a stylist and behind the scenes for 35 years. I always say, “Where were you 40 years ago when I looked really good?” I would wear hot pants and had no wrinkles. It’s interesting to be embraced for all the things you never thought you would be embraced for.
How has your style changed over the years?
My style has not changed. I’ve always looked the same. Of course, I didn’t need glasses and my hair wasn’t white. Things have happened to me that have come to define my style.
I’ve even had my optician create “TV” glasses because I love watching TV so much. I measured the exact distance from my TV set to my bed and he made lenses that work for that distance. I love watching Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, House of Cards, Nurse Jackie and Turner Classic Movies. No network TV.
You have a scent inspired by your mother (Bis), is she a muse of sorts for you?
Bis ($300) is my mom in a bottle. It’s how I remember my mom smelling. My mother was really glamorous — kooky. It’s not like we had a lot of money, so she had a very unique way about her. My mother was the first one I had ever seen wearing a French manicure. We would say, “Why not make it all white?” Now I think my mother was so ahead of her time. She did it all first.
We didn’t have products growing up. Nobody did. She wore lipstick and had her nails and hair done every Saturday when she went for a wash and set. And, she would never leave the house without lipstick. She would drive us to school and put on her lipstick while in her pajamas. I’m the same way. I don’t like myself without lipstick and I’m making them now. There are four colors: a bright orange, hot pink, a Bardot pink and a berry-reddish, which is a color my mother wore. I think I’ll name the orange Tough Tomato, because that’s what I am. The hot pink is Winky Pinky for my dog Winky, and the berry-red is Billy on the Bike for my mother. My dad had all of this amazing vintage footage of my mom on a bike.
Is the lipstick matte or creamy? What other products do you have in the pipeline?
It’s creamy but matte. I don’t like really matte and don’t like shiny. I also have a cleansing powder coming out as well, which I’ve been working on for three years.
I’ve always wanted to make a lipstick. I only make things I would use. If I don’t use it, I’m not going to make it. Makeup does not look good on older women. It makes you look older. I don’t even know what I’d look like with foundation on. It’s not going to take away my wrinkles, so what’s the point? You see women who are older and the most beautiful ones are not wearing a lot of makeup.
Why do you think your Olio Lusso has been so well received?
I say it’s the best your skin can be naturally. It makes you feel really good. It’s hydrating and simple. I am making two new sets of all the products with two different scents, just to have options. I was just making the oil for myself. I wasn’t going to sell it. I brought it to every photo shoot and had a huge grassroots following in the fashion industry. It’s still the same formula and I still go to the factory. It’s my nose and my thing and I would never change it.
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James Gordon Meek