LINDA RODIN written by ISABELLA BEHRAVAN photography ARI SETH COHEN realization VALENTINA ILARDI MARTIN 1.1
“Nowadays you have to go to school for this and that. I couldn’t have gone to school for one thing I’ve done. I just put one foot in front of the other and it worked out. I’ve worked very hard for it. I would never have thought I’d be sitting here today talking to you about my life.”
Maybe you’ve seen the elegant glass bottles of Olio Lusso floating around seductively at Barneys or Bergdorf’s. Perhaps you’ve even gotten a little bold and tried a drop of the luxurious skincare oil. The subtle scent of jasmine might have taken you on an intoxicating journey. Linda Rodin, much like her remarkable beauty products, is mesmerizing and leaves a lasting impression. A renaissance woman par excellence, Rodin has set the pace and the standard in the fashion industry, beginning with a modeling career which led to her successful stint as a fashion stylist, followed by a leap into curation and design with her groundbreaking store in the 1970s, culminating with her current empire in cosmetics, perfumes and beauty products. What sets Rodin leagues above the fray isn’t just what she does, but the extraordinary integrity with which she does it. For a fashion world mired in cultural hype, corporate greed, and collective apathy, Linda Rodin is a ray of hope: she is the Real Thing, reminding us with everything she does that it’s still worth believing in. A few years ago, I was flipping through a magazine and saw a photograph of her. It was a thumbnail image, and even though it was tiny, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Rodin was standing in the middle of the street in New York with her cute grey poodle, Winky. She’s been on my mind ever since, and on a short trip to New York, I was fortuitously given the chance to interview her.
As I was getting ready this morning to interview you for Grey Magazine, I was struck by the word “grey.” It seems to be such a powerful linguistic monolith. I remembered how I read that your hair started to go grey at the age of 35. I’m well on my way there and actually seem to glean some strength from it. It seems like a strange gift at such a young age since I’m already pretty grey at the age of 26. What’s your approach to having grey hair? Does it tie into your overall feelings of beauty, age and style?
It never even occurred to me to dye my hair. When I was 35 and started turning grey I wasn’t really thinking about it as aging me. I just thought, “Oh this is kind of fun, lets see what this looks like.” Interestingly enough, I guess it’s 31 years later – I’m 66, I won’t have a face-lift or anything like that. I’m consciously aware of trying to be natural. The alternative scares me to death; I just couldn’t do it.
I’m so intrigued by the thought of a store curated by you. Can you walk me through what it felt like to be in your boutique [called Linda Hopp] in Soho in 1979?
I have to say it was exciting. It was 1979, so there was nothing there. I think there was one vintage clothing store way up on Houston and West Broadway. And my store was by Spring, on West Broadway. I guess you could say it was like a concept store. I had about 10 different designers and I designed a lot of the clothes myself. My brother, an architect, Bob Rodin, designed the space. It was very Bauhaus. I have a lot of pictures of it actually. It was great, but it was very short lived and only lasted a year--but that’s a whole different story [laughs]. I just did it. I had no fear. I never really think about the big picture. Like with my oils, I didn’t think about making a business and I had no idea what the store would do.
You’ve made a lot of transitions in your life, from stylist, to store owner, to skincare guru, to founder of a beauty brand. Do you think that each experience has serendipitously led you to the next, or have these shifts come from a feeling of restlessness?
I think it was serendipity. I never planned anything. I was just very lucky and I pursued things that I enjoyed. Nowadays you have to go to school for this and that. I couldn’t have gone to school for one thing I’ve done. I just put one foot in front of the other and it worked out. I’ve worked very hard for it. I would never have thought I’d be sitting here today talking to you about my life.
Well I’m glad you are. I’m sure you have some amazing stories from working as a stylist in the ‘80s. Is there a trip or experience that stands out?
I did go to Venice to work with Bob Dylan. It was a very crazy thing. That was definitely a highlight. It was incredible meeting Bob Dylan. He was very charming; very quiet. He’s my idol anyways.
Can you tell me about some of the things you’re working on and what you’re most excited about?
I’m working on a lipstick. I want to do a bright orange and a bright pink, because that’s all I wear. I mix and blend a lot of things together. So I want to make exactly the color I’d wear. Everything I’ve made, all my products, are things that I want. I needed a hand cream so I made a hand cream. I take a bath every night so I made a nice bar of soap. I just do what appeals to me. It’s on a need-to-have basis.
That sounds like the dream.
Yeah it is, that’s the beauty of it. I wouldn’t make something that I wouldn’t use. I wanted to have a perfume that reminded me of my mom and it came out on Mother’s Day. I worked with the great perfumers behind D.S. & Durga, David Moltz and his wife Kavi. I didn’t know the scent my mother wore, but I remembered what it smelled like. So we smelled a lot of things and they got exactly what I wanted. It’s very different than the first perfume, which has jasmine and neroli and really reflects the way Olio Lusso smells. The only scent the two perfumes share is a little bit of jasmine.
I really wanted to come visit your home today because in the photographs I’ve seen your place is packed full of special items you’ve collected. Do you draw inspiration from your home?
My mother had an antique shop and she was an interior decorator. So we always went antiquing. I still go to the flea market every weekend. I’m not a minimalist obviously, except that my products are very minimal. I’m very simple in my person and I dress simply. And I wanted the products to reflect that. It’s interesting; people laugh when they come here. They think that I’d live in a white loft with no furniture and I’m so the opposite personally. I could leave and go somewhere and just bring my oils and another shirt. I’m not all over the place, except at home. I have stuff all over and every single thing I have I like. And just looking at things does inspire me. I just love beautiful things; I go to the flea market every weekend.
Janicza Bravo for OAK
Photography by Isabella Behravan
Art Direction by Jess Cuevas Styling by Jess Cuevas and Katie Collins Interview by Conor Riley
As filmmaker Janicza Bravo gears up to release her first feature-length film Lemon – which will have its world premiere at Sundance this January – she talks with the OAK crew about her creative process, why it’s important to be careful about what you say “yes” to, and how she wears outerwear in LA.
Christopher Owens for Saint Laurent
Custom necklace designed and hand forged by Isabella Behravan
Elizabeth Jaeger interviewed by Isabella Behravan for Rika Magazine
Elizabeth Jaeger is a prolific young artist who has quickly gained a name for herself in the art world. This past fall, her first major solo show was unveiled at the esteemed Jack Hanley Gallery in Soho, New York. For this show she created an installation articulating, “there’s something unspecific that’s gone wrong.” Jaeger, a skilled sculptor and ceramicist, creates form with informal intrigue. She’s most well known for her female nude sculptures made of ceramic, hydrocal, and synthetic hair. Coincidentally, Elizabeth Jaeger and I both grew up in San Francisco and attended the same high school — a progressive international liberal arts school. I was interested to see that her work was influenced by this time and she’s recently discovered her own passion for teaching.
Do you think that growing up in San Francisco has influenced how you've developed as an artist?
Most, if not all, of the work I make has a dark underbelly to it. I think it comes from growing up in a city where you were constantly in-between the super rich, the super poor, and the drug addicts on the street. There was always something awry.
Has the past four years in New York had an impact on your work?
New York has an intense amount of cultural exchange; even just on the subway. It’s totally impacted my work. The first year of living here was like getting hit by a bus full of art and culture every day.
When we met in high school you were already creating such fully formed work. I have a really clear memory of you photographing our artwork in the basement at school – documentarian style. I can't help but wonder if that was the same thing that drove you to start a publishing company in 2012. Can you tell me a bit about the New York publishing group you founded called Peradam?
I actually started and co-run Peradam with another ex-FAIS student, Sam Cate-Gumpert. We started it right after I moved to New York. It came out of this feeling of arriving to New York empty handed but desiring an opportunity in the arts. Designing and publishing was something I could offer to the artists I admired without taking much back. We started small, basically making zines in editions of 30-100. We eventually moved to offset editions of 1,000 so that we could better distribute the artists’ books. Neither of us make any money from the project – everything is poured straight back into the next book. Peradam was essentially born out of guilt and sustained by generosity – working for those you love keeps you sane here.
You mentioned that Peradam came out of a desire for an opportunity in the arts. What eventually gave you your opportunity?
It's not so much opportunities as ongoing conversations. I’ve found that if you immerse yourself in the people, things and spaces you love — not the opportunities you seek — they embrace you.
You’ve published a huge range of work, everything from Linda Simpson’s heartfelt homage to her transgender friend Page to artist Elaine Cameron-Weir’s notebooks. Does literature or the printed matter you publish influence your visual art?
I’ve been fairly immersed in trying to fully understand the readings I’ve assigned for my class: Sol Lewitt’s artist writings, Merleau-Ponty, Jan Verwoert, Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag, On Longing by Susan Stewart, Nelson Goodman, and The Open: Man and Animal by Agamben. In general I feel like I’m still processing books I read in high school — Les Bonnes by Jean Genet, The Stranger by Albert Camus, The Bell Jar, Dostoevsky… I keep finding that the things I’ve learned in high school still haunt me.
What’s the class that you’re teaching?
I’m teaching Show and Tell: Sculpture. It’s a free class offered by BHQFU that features bi-weekly lectures by emerging and established artists, curators and critics, discussions on selected texts, and group critiques of student work. It’s great — and it’s all ages too. I never ask my students about their backgrounds, so they can be anyone or any age they want. This semester I have about 40 students and somehow we manage to have a productive group conversation once a week. It’s been a good exercise in learning how to listen.
I saw some beautiful photos of your home and studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. What's your space like?
I live in an old slightly dilapidating mansion with several of my friends. I have a studio in the basement. It's a weird set up, but keeping overhead low gives you more freedom.
Do you and your housemates collaborate?
We mainly work separately but share space and help each other out from time to time. Aidan Koch [Peradam published author] moved in afterwards (by chance) which has been nice. Aidan cut my hair last night — that’s semi-collaborative.
Definitely. So, what's next for you?
I'm settling down from doing the show, Six-Thirty, at the Jack Hanley Gallery and my solo show at And Now in Dallas is up. I’m pretty focused on teaching and preparing for a few upcoming shows. I just started teaching after school art at the high school in my neighborhood. The feeling of exposing young minds to contemporary art for the first time is unprecedented joy. You realize that learning about contemporary art is really about freedom.
What do you think drew you to teaching and how do you help your students to find that freedom?
It fell into my lap. Jarrett Earnest, from BHQFU, convinced me to teach and I ended up truly enjoying it. Then I saw a flyer in a cafe that asked, “Do you want to make a difference in the life of a teen?” It hit me that it was important for me to at least try. So far, I’m just trying to expose them to as much great work as I can. I think the work itself is what helps them to find freedom.
Giambattista Valli for Ingenue Magazine
Valentine’s Day for “Valli Girls”
by Isabella Behravan
When you visit Giambattista Valli’s namesake website, immediately “My Funny Valentine” echoes through the speakers. Chet Baker’s voice gives you just as many chills as the mesmerizing structural pieces from Valli’s Haute Couture and Ready-To-Wear collections. His Parisian headquarters are also steeped in the Classics. The historic building was once the home of Jean-Baptiste Lully, chief master of the French baroque style, composer and instrumentalist who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV. Giambattista understands the Classics and for his latest diffusion line he calls back to some timeless unwavering goddesses.
Valli cites Shelly Duval, the queen of big eyed, long legged, free wheeling style, as one of his inspirations behind Giamba. The designer also boasts a devout band of current celebrity followers. Diane Kruger, Clotilde de Kersauson, Anna Dello Russo, Jessica Biel, Lena Dunham, and Margherita Missoni are often front row at his shows and a few were even cooing “Giamba” in the teaser video he released to announce his latest diffusion collection. “This is the other side of my personality. Giamba is my nickname, the one that is used by my very close friends. So this is the other side of the coin, my playful side,” says Valli. He designed this collection with these friends in mind. "It's a 250-piece collection, what you've just seen on the catwalk is only one aspect of it.” Valli pronounces.
Giamba is not only a diffusion line that will retail for 30-40% less than his Ready-To-Wear lines, but a way of life.
And his way of life is full of silhouettes built to be accompanied by sparkly sky-high platforms and subtle Jane Birkin fringe. While the collection does boast licorice pastel anoraks, and sorbet hued floral minis, Giamba is anything but saccharine. Instead, it’s the encapsulation of effortlessly chic Parisienne cool with a dash of glacé.
Giamba offers you the freedom to let your burgeoning sheer polka dotted ruffled dreams take flight. I want to be a "Valli Girl" where each day is Valentine’s Day.