Source: Getty Images
Never one for following trends, beauty-brand founder Linda Rodin reflects on a lifetime of staying true to her instincts.
There’s an old image I love of my mother riding a bicycle. She’s young and smiling, and she’s wearing a simple cream turtleneck and a pair of inky denim dungarees. It’s a slice of an old 16 mm home movie, so the colours have a hazy, bluish filter. There’s no sound, but I know my father was the one behind the lens. He was the family photographer. A doctor by day, he was a Gregory Peck-type character. I can’t ever remember him not being smartly dressed under a trilby hat. All the men wore hats in the ’50s. He was passionately in love with my mother, and my earliest memories involve them piling my sister, my brother and me into the car on weekends and heading to the beach, a half-hour drive from our postwar home in the tightly knit community of Roslyn, Long Island. We didn’t have a lot of money, but appearance was always important to my parents: Our hair was always brushed, our shoes were always polished.
My mother, Beatrice, a.k.a. Billie, was incredibly stylish and obsessively collected objects of beauty. She had an antiques shop, she was an interior decorator, she was a sculptress. She had wonderful taste, as did my grandmother and my aunt, so I think it was just by osmosis that I grew up with an appreciation for beautiful things and a keen eye for clothing. Style was always present in our house. The Warholian-style wallpaper (before his famous flower paintings) in our modest kitchen—bold and flowered in black and bright blue—wasn’t like anything in the homes of my childhood school friends. But it was unique and, like the impeccably tailored clothes I’d see my mother wearing, understated in a way that felt independent, confident and always special. She made the trends of the day totally her own.
I lived at home until I was 18, going back and forth into New York City on the train, jumping off at Penn Station and exploring the immediate area around 34th Street, not wanting to stray too far. And then I made the move to Manhattan. I studied liberal arts at NYU, heading home on weekends. My roommate and I shared an apartment on the Upper West Side. The bathroom was royal purple, while the rest was painted a beautiful lavender. It was a funny first apartment. I remember the pride I felt for my olive-green vintage dresser, with its white marble top and beautiful mirror, and my big, roomy bed. It was just charming. When I moved to Italy a year later to follow a boyfriend, I felt liberated and open to anything, like most 20-year-olds at the close of the ’60s.
Looking back on that time, stepping out of the blissful suburban bubble where I had grown up, I suppose my thoughts and views on the world were radically changing. What wasn’t radically changing was my personal style: simple, straightforward and clean. Aside from a brief hippie moment of long, centre-parted hair and dangly earrings and ponchos (we all wanted to look like folk singer Joan Baez) and a fun stage where I channeled ’30s Parisians, I was essentially a shirt-and-jeans girl. What other people were doing, culturally and sartorially, was always interesting to me. I would adopt bits and pieces but remained true to my rather simple style, although my inherited and hopeless need to surround myself with things of unique beauty was an affliction I continued to fully embrace.
By 1979, I was back in New York and opened Linda Hopp, a clothing store that was the first of its kind in SoHo. I was designing clothes, and I was buying Calvin Klein and Todd Oldham early on, before both designers were propelled into fashion’s super league. I had hats and bags—it was an original “concept” store, albeit short-lived. For a time, people would come by to uncover new and different pieces, experimenting and playing dress-up, until the homogenized power uniform of ’80s Manhattan set in.
I left the exaggerated shoulder pads and gratuitous excess to New York’s movers and shakers and channeled my own brand of maximalism into the downtown apartment in the funky pre-war building I moved into 35 years ago (and still remain in today). When I say “funky,” what I really mean is a bit shabby, but in this city’s rental market, once you find a place, it’s wise to never leave. And I love my one-bedroom apartment with windows on three sides. I’ve made it totally mine, surrounding myself with pieces that give me joy. I collect anything and everything: vases, shells, bowls, glasses—whatever strikes my fancy. I don’t have anything that’s contemporary. I don’t look to interiors magazines or shop according to the hottest designer or store. I’m a loner, and I love what I love. If I see a beautiful dish from the ’70s or a faded mirror from 1930, I’ll get it. It’s eclectic, a hodgepodge, things I like to wake up and see.
My choices are mine alone to make. I never did meet the right guy and settle down, and now I live with the love of my life, my miniature poodle, Winky. He weighs nine kilograms, he’s silver, he’s got really long legs and he’s much smarter than I could ever be! As someone said: “Poodles aren’t dogs; they’re people.” I love to have friends over, a few at a time, for a glass of wine and a chat. I’m not a big entertainer. No dinner parties. No space for that. I travel, but I always love to come home to my turquoise velvet sofa and my gorgeous plants and flowers. I’m a true homebody.
I find it hysterical that a 68-year-old, someone who’s wrinkly and worn, has been noticed by the fashion set and they have decided to embrace me. It’s wonderful to be called a “style icon.” First came the Karen Walker sunglasses campaign, then a lookbook for The Row. It’s flattering to think they find my style “cool.”
I don’t have a lot of dresses. I don’t like frilly things. I like being tailored; it suits my physique. While I’d happily saunter around my living room in floor-length ’30s bias dresses, I don’t own an evening gown and I never have. Nor have I ever dyed my hair. It was never an issue when I started turning grey at 35. That didn’t bother me at all. It never has. I guess you could say it’s become my signature—that and the glasses. Everyone says, “Oh, you wear the greatest glasses.” Well, I can’t see! They are, admittedly, a nice, quirky addition and a super-easy way to add flair to my look.
I also collect vintage jewellery, but I only wear a few personal pieces designed by Soraya Silchenstedt. She made long chain necklaces for me and my sister about seven years ago. Mine has a small round diamond charm and a heart on it, and my sister’s just has the tiny heart. When she passed away, I buried her in my necklace and now I wear hers. I’ve never taken it off. On my wrist I have her name, Christine, tattooed in turquoise. I was 62 and didn’t have to think twice. My first and only other tattoo (which I got at 60) says “Nick”—my nephew who was serving in Iraq. I needed him close. (He’s back home and safe now.)
I operate on instinct—I’ve got a lifetime of experience to draw on. I don’t shop by label. If something looks good on me, I’m on board. And I keep some pieces forever. I still have a denim shirt that’s 30 years old and a denim jacket that I’ve had forever. I’m fortunate in that I’ve kept the same silhouette so I can still wear the same jeans—I’m a real denim fanatic. I wear vintage Levi’s 501s almost every day. I have lovely designer jeans as well. I’ve got a pair from Chloé, but it doesn’t matter where they came from or who designed them—I just love denim in any shape or form. I’m waiting for my Ellery jeans to arrive from Australia. I love Ellery and got her wonderful flare pants while visiting Sydney.
Style does not have to rely on money or resources. For me, it’s about personal taste and a sense of oneself. And I don’t think that just because you get older you have to dress older, or younger, or anything. I was never a provocative dresser anyway. I did wear hot pants and miniskirts when I was 18. I guess we all did. But since then, I’ve always been pretty covered up; that’s just the way I feel most comfortable. It has to feel right for me in order to look right. And now when I look at footage of my mother, it strikes me how similar my tastes have become to hers. That simple turtleneck, those great dungarees—there was a simplicity about the way she dressed that allowed her personality to shine through. That and the slick of raspberry lipstick that frames that beaming smile. It’s a shade I’ve recreated today in my own beauty line, Rodin Olio Lusso. It still feels modern, even 60 years on.
I called it Billie on the Bike.
No, not THAT job. Prince William definitely still plans to be king one day. In fact, he's quitting his day job as an ambulance pilot to focus more on his royal duties.
In a statement today, Kensington Palace revealed that William will end his tenure with the emergency services this summer and plans on moving the family to London from their current base in Norfolk.
It was also announced that Prince George will be starting school in the UK capital in September, as will Charlotte when her time comes.
Like you weren't emotional enough today (Trumpnauguration whyyyyyyy), here's the final episode of West Wing Week courtesy of the White House's Twitter accounts.
It's basically an incredibly moving montage of the Obama's saying thank you to all the people who've been by their sides for the past 8 years—from their security detail to the entire country.
Just before she started filming The Promise, Charlotte Le Bon sent an email to her two co-stars. “I wrote to Oscar [Isaac] and Christian [Bale],” recalls Le Bon, miming out the action of typing as she sits in a Toronto hotel lobby. “I just said that I was super-intimidated by them both but I couldn’t wait to start. I promised that when I met them, I’d pretend everything was all right and it was fine, but I just wanted them to know that that feeling was there.” (BTW, Isaac wrote back right away saying he felt the same; Bale never replied.)
We’re catching up with the French-Canadian actress the day after that film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and her relief at the romantic epic’s positive reception is obvious. “We had a standing ovation. There were a lot of Armenians in the room, and it was really moving to have them come up to us afterwards with tears in their eyes, thanking us for our work. That’s exactly why I want to do my job.”
In the film, to be released early this year, Le Bon plays Ana, a cosmopolitan Armenian woman who returns home to what is now modern-day Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) on the eve of the outbreak of the First World War—and the start of the genocide of much of that country’s Armenian population by the Ottoman authorities. (It’s worth noting that Turkey still officially denies this ever occurred.) Ana also finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, torn between an American journalist (Bale) and an Armenian medical student (Isaac).
“I think she really doesn’t know [who to choose],” says Le Bon. “Love is a weird and complex feeling: Sometimes you choose passion; sometimes you choose comfort. I think it’s a modern approach to a love story because although it’s not completely politically correct to say she’s in love with two men, it happens in real life.”
That complicated romantic situation isn’t the only true-to-life parallel the 30-year-old noticed while filming the Terry George-directed epic, which centres much of its action on a group of Armenians (and Ana) trying to escape through the mountains. Two summers ago, Le Bon and her boyfriend were on the Greek island of Lesbos, which, along with being an idyllic vacation spot, is also the site of a large refugee camp filled with migrants from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan fleeing conflict.
“I just remember seeing hundreds and hundreds of people walking in the street in the heat,” recalls Le Bon. “You really don’t know what to do. We bought water bottles and we were trying to give what we could. You’re trying to choose—maybe give to this one because she’s older, this one has a baby. You feel completely helpless.” Fast-forward to shooting The Promise in Spain about a year later: “Seeing those hundreds and hundreds of extras going down the mountain, I was like, ‘Fuck—this is exactly what I saw [in Greece].’ It’s awful to see that 100 years later, nothing’s really changed. Humans are worse than rats! We don’t learn.”
At another point in our conversation, Le Bon complains about her eyes (“They’re too big, especially on a movie screen”), but seeing her use them to persuade, to impart passionate caring, you get a sense of why this Montreal-born performer is already a big deal in her adopt-ed home of France—and why Hollywood has come calling. Le Bon is basically the definition of French-girl cool, down to an endearing overlapping front tooth that seems impossibly chic. (She’s probably pictured beside the word “gamine” in the dictionary.) She started as a model, served briefly as a weather girl on French TV and then got her big acting break in the 2014 biopic Yves Saint Laurent, which was quickly followed by a role in the Golden Globe-nominated The Hundred-Foot Journey and a star turn opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 2015’s The Walk.
And while Le Bon loves acting, she says she feels most like herself when she’s drawing. (And it’s no hobby; she opened her first solo show in Paris this summer.) “The thing with acting is that it goes through so many filters that in the end you can’t control anything, but with art the delivery is so pure because it’s you, it’s just you.”
She says being an actress is work—not so much “what happens between ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’” but what she calls “all this stuff,” gesturing to the elaborately embroidered dress she’s wearing for a day of television interviews, her heavily-made-up face and her carefully coiffed hair. “This is not my favourite thing, you know?” she says. “I wear no makeup in real life, and I wear jeans and sneakers.” Even when it’s for a role, Le Bon finds the beauty routine tiresome. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Ugh! I just want to do everything without makeup. Can I do that?’ I mean, Christian and Oscar arrived in jeans without makeup. It’s freaking unfair!”
But Le Bon insists she’s not letting down the Canadian side by throwing any tantrums or being difficult. (Although she does half-jokingly threaten to “start a revolution” when it comes to these gender-based double standards.) “The thing people say is that I’m unusually nice,” she says of being unashamedly Canadian. “I’ve been living in France for seven years now, and it’s actually true that we are so nice. Even when I come back now, I’m surprised by how easy and relaxed and cool it is socially. I’m used to the Parisian attitude now, so it’s almost weird!”
Oh, and if you’re wondering how Le Bon eventually fared on-set with those “intimidating” co-stars—well, she and Isaac ended up hanging out all the time (when he wasn’t jetting off to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that is), and she basically became a one-woman fan club for Bale. “I think I laughed at every single one of his jokes for four months,” says Le Bon of her on-set “best pal.” She does note, however, that Bale was very much about doing his own thing. “He’s very present, very professional—but when it’s over, he just disappears like Houdini. Poof!”
Bale even pulled a disappearing act on the last day of filming. When the final shot had wrapped, Le Bon went to find him so she could give him a drawing she’d done for him...and he’d already bailed. (Bale-d?) “I asked everyone where Christian was, and they were like, ‘He’s already on a plane! He’s gone!’ and I was like, ‘Shit!’ But, really, it was fine.”
And then it’s Le Bon’s turn to go, gracefully picking up her skirts as she rises from the table, straight from our chat to a flight bound for Paris.