People, Places, Object History

An Eye for Beauty:
At Home with Linda Rodin

Entering Linda Rodin’s Manhattan apartment is like stepping inside the brilliantly edited scrapbook of a life well-lived. Photographs and artwork mix with treasures and trinkets in a sea of pale greenish blue that barely registers as discrete rooms. “I collect shells, so there are shells everywhere,” says Rodin, explaining the undersea theme that runs from the conchs and coral plumes lining most surfaces to the seaweed she harvested days ago while in Italy that is now soaking in her kitchen sink. “I collect anything, to be quite honest.”

The discerning eye and innate elegance that has kept Rodin in demand as a freelance stylist since the early 1980s is what separates her chic home from a scene out of Hoarders. “It’s all thought out. I’m very visual, so nothing gets by me,” she says of her knack for combining the graphic black-and-white paintings of Hugo Guinness, exotic gilt sconces, and hot pink pom-poms. She gestures to a delicate vintage dress that hangs on the back of a door. “I knew I’d never wear it, but it’s too beautiful not to look at.”

Shop all products by Rodin

“I’ll look at something and just know, 'Oh, I love this.' It could be anything from a fishhook to a coat. It just has to appeal to me in some kind of way that is very hard to describe.”

Whether styling a fashion shoot, scouring a flea market, or shopping for a new pair of sunglasses, Rodin’s philosophy is the same: “It’s got to be special.” Years of trying “every great new beauty product” eventually led her to create a special regimen of her own. Named with a nod to the Italian culture she adores, Rodin Olio Lusso (“luxury oil”) was born in 2007 out of her desire to combine the effects of 11 favorite essential oils into a single, ultra-hydrating formula that bestows an instant glow as well as the softly bewitching scent of jasmine and neroli.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that not that many things work for me. So I’ve been able to scale back and narrow it down,” explains Rodin. “When I decided to make my oil, I just customized it to what my needs were, and it turned out that I didn’t need all these creams—I just needed one oil for my face, one for my body, one for my hair. It gives skin kind of an instant dewiness and keeps me supple and hydrated.”

“It’s harder to wear things than to have them in your house. I like to look pretty simple—I don’t really wear high heels or dresses—but I do like the odd thing. I was just in Paris and I bought this fake fur, frog green coat that’s just so crazy and funny. I don’t know if anybody would ever wear it but me.”

“I’ve always loved oils…and little unknown things that I’ve never heard of. I always go for the unusual. I had used oils individually over the years—rosehip oil and calendula oil, arnica oil and argan oil, evening primrose oil for lashes—but I had never thought of combining them.”

From those three anchor products (the hair oil was developed in collaboration with hairstylist Bob Recine, who added a zing of rosemary and juniper to the mix), Rodin has grown her line slowly, decisively, and always with her own needs in mind. “Everything came when I needed it,” she says. “I needed a body oil, and then I wanted a nice lip balm, because nothing worked for me. It all evolved into things that I selfishly wanted myself and couldn’t find.”

Rodin is currently road-testing her next products, including a soap that will be available in December and a powder-based facial cleanser that she’ll introduce next year, but she has no interest in dramatically expanding her line. “It’s not about blue eyeshadows and all sorts of colors,” says Rodin, who glances around her object-lined hallway as she prepares to take her poodle, Winky, out for an afternoon stroll. “I end up living with everything forever, so I better like it.”