How (if at all) has your personal style changed as you’ve gotten older?
In a funny way, I think I’m pretty much the same. I’ve always been a jeans girl. I’ve always had the same exact silhouette; I have thin legs so I can wear tight pants. I don’t think it’s changed that much. Maybe I can afford a more expensive handbag, but I’ve never spent a ton of money on clothes. I do love clothes, obviously. I don’t wear as much vintage. I used to wear a lot of vintage when I was younger and now I rarely buy vintage clothes. I buy it to look at but I don’t really wear it. I’ll buy a beautiful sequin top to hang on the door. I used to wear tons of vintage.
Has the definition of beauty changed for you since your early modeling days? And if it has, how so?
Well, I think the difference now is that natural beauty is a thing of the past. Everybody seems so enhanced by retouching. You look at a magazine cover and you don’t even know who it is. Everybody has the same face and poreless skin. So I think that the definition of beauty is kind of fake; we don’t really know what we’re looking at anymore. You’re at a shoot and it’s: “Don’t worry about that, we’ll retouch it. Don’t worry about that. Can we retouch that?” You didn’t used to be able to do all that. I think everything is so redone. But I think it’s also loosened up; hair can be a mess. Earlier, the hair was more coiffed and now the more messy your hair is the better it looks. For me, it has not changed. The same girls that I would find beautiful when I was twenty I think would be the same now. I haven’t changed that.
How has fashion publishing changed? Do you think that retouching is a big part of it?
I think a lot of it is forgivable. “Oh, don’t worry we’ll retouch that. We don’t have the right color shoe? Don’t worry we can make it pink.” It’s just a whole different world. Reality is not as important.
What are your thoughts on personal style?
I think everybody just has to be kind of true to themselves. For me, if the greatest thing came out and it didn’t look good on me, I wouldn’t buy it. I would hang up a picture of it. Not everything’s going to look good on everybody but there’s enough stuff that will. So I think you just have to really figure out what looks good on you, and just be honest with yourself.
As a stylist, what do you want to know about the person that you’re styling?
I don’t do personal styling that much anymore, but when I did, personal style was very important. You would have to figure out what was their best asset – and have a lot of choices, because people are very self-conscious. I think you really have to have plenty of things to choose from. It’s very personal. You just have to have a lot of choices when you style people. Maybe the day that you’re going to shoot them they want to be wearing hot pants and a turtleneck sweater, and then the next day they want to be in a gold sequin dress. You kind of have to anticipate what the story is and what you think they’ll feel comfortable in. And you know, we’re all also fickle. “Oh I don’t like red anymore, sorry. Maybe you saw me in a red dress on the red carpet, but I hate red.” It’s hard; it’s very difficult dressing people I think.
You can try [to impose your own style] if it’s really an editorial story where the editor gets to decide and you have a model that’s amenable to trying things. But if it’s for advertising or something you don’t really have too much choice. You’re selling a coat, so you have to put the coat on. I think models learn that they’re not always going to feel gorgeous in the thing they have to wear. To say, “This is really not the greatest coat but I can make it work.” That’s really a great model, who can just put on anything and go with it.
What’s the difference between when you used to model and modeling now, in campaigns like the one you did for Karen Walker?
Oh it was just so different! You did your own hair and make-up – well, I still do – and it was just different. It was not so tortured. I was in Italy so it was a whole different ballgame. It was just easy, and it just always seemed kind of spur of the moment. They didn’t run on call sheets and you just kind of showed up and it was really kind of, just simple. The same way everything was then.
What do you always bring with you to a dinner party for the host?
If you were to host a dinner party with any five people, living or dead, who would be there and what would you wear?
My mother and father (who passed away) my sister, me, and maybe, Mozart. I think I would wear some kind of vintage-y ethereal thing that I wouldn’t wear on the street. Something that I would feel comfortable in my house wearing but that I wouldn’t wear outside.
*Linda Rodin, photographed by Danielle Kosann at her Chelsea apartment