What makes a woman an icon? The number of social media followers she has, or the number of girls who dress up as her for Halloween? Is it a woman's ability to shake things up, or simply her enviable bone structure? According to Merriam-Webster, an icon is “an object of uncritical devotion”—in which case, model Anja Rubik fits the definition to a (well-tailored) T.
A muse of Karl Lagerfeld and favorite on the runways of Chanel, Chloé, and Gucci, the Polish-born model has certainly left her mark on the modeling world—just flip through any major magazine and you’ll see the proof. But this year, Rubik is venturing down a new path—that of a creator, rather than muse. Her newly-launched fragrance, Original, is a soft, lily-based scent that Rubik says is "more than just a beautiful smell."
We hopped on a call with her expecting to learn about her fragrance, and perhaps pick up a skincare tip or two. Instead, Rubik turned out to be a fount of beauty knowledge, with a wealth of product recommendations, makeup tricks, and hair advice that she was more than happy to divulge. Keep scrolling to find out Rubik’s fragrance philosophy, why she rarely shampoos, all about her love of fake freckles, and more!
The Inspiration for Original
“I’ve been inspired and intrigued by fragrances for so long. When I was a kid, I remember rubbing lavender into my skin and using different oils. It’s something that always fascinated me. I’ve advertised a lot of fragrances for the past few years, but it wasn’t me—it was just embodying the vision of the designer. I was really interested in the power of the scent and smell, and I did a lot of research. Scent can really put you in a state of mind and a mood…I think that’s so interesting. I’ve loved fragrance and loved playing with fragrances, so I thought it would be incredible to put something out there that represents me, my vision and my aesthetics—a beautiful fragrance that’s very fashion-forward.
It’s more than just a beautiful smell; it has a bit of a story behind it. I wanted to combine the message with the smell, so that later on when you smell it on your skin, it kind of triggers that emotion.”
“I’m very ‘girl power’ and about reaching goals, whatever they may be, building your own path, and not following someone blindly. That’s something I combined with my experience in fashion; the most important thing I think is to create your own style. Not blindly follow trends. You should really do what you like, and create your own world and your own sound. Every single person out there is very different. It’s hard to find yourself in a world that's bombarded on every side with how to live, what to look like, and what to be like.
I wanted this fragrance to have this message of finding yourself, and really being yourself. And kind of trigger the courage to do it.”
“I always loved black and white photography. I thought that was the original statement of beauty…I loved Robert Mapplethorpe. I loved flowers, I loved the idea of a lily that was pure and white, but at the same time the symbol of erotica and quite provocative. And I loved the contrast of that. When I started building the scent with Patricia Choux, I built a whole mood board around the fragrance, and what I wanted it to represent. Lilies were very important within that fragrance. I decided to add some green tea—it’s a scent that’s very modern, and unisex.
I thought that goes really well with the idea. I love woody smells, so we decided to get a little bit of amber. To make the combination even more intriguing, we added pink peppercorn to spice it up a bit. I have a very personal connection because I built it, but the idea is that it’s a very sensual fragrance—like every woman has different layers to her, so it goes from very floral to slightly woody and then the spiciness comes out at the end, after a few hours. When I smell it, for me, it represents a new adventure, a new stimulation, something I’ve really wanted to do for a long time.
The whole process took a year and a half—it was an incredible learning experience.”
“My biggest secret is my colorist. Although we talk about texture, having the color done the right way also gives the right texture to your hair. My colorist is at Suite Caroline in Soho—Lena Ott. She is amazing.”
“I have a lot of products, a lot of things done to my hair constantly on shoots, so it tends to get a little dry. If I don’t have to, I won’t wash my hair for as long as I can. When you over-wash your hair and you use too much shampoo, it dries your hair out. When I do wash my hair, I like La Biosthetique products. Also, I use a lot of oils—I love adding some Moroccanoil ($43) in after I wash my hair.
I brush my hair when I wash it and then I don’t brush it until I wash it again. I don’t blow-dry my hair, so I usually go to sleep with wet hair. Obviously there are different ways to do that kind of model-off-duty texture. You can do little buns on top of your head, and then when you let it go, it has that natural wave. Or, try a French brand with a dry shampoo—I like Klorane’s Dry Shampoo ($20). And also a little bit of hairspray; L’oreal Elnett ($15) is a classic. Just put your hair upside down and mess it up, it gives you nice boost.
I brush it, then apply some oils, then let it go."
“A product I use is called liquid panthenol—you rub it on your skin and it heals the scalp really well and also gives your hair a slight lift…I think it also maybe makes your hair grow faster. It’s from Serbia. In Poland, you have the product, but it’s in a foam—it’s best in liquid, as a spray.”
Mixing and Matching
“I like to mix a lot of skin products. I’m actually a bit of a product freak. I mix everything from La Prarie to Crème de La Mer. I have lots of organic things too—I love Dr. Hauschka’s Rose Cream ($43), and the brand has an amazing mask, too. I try to do a moisturizing mask a few times a week—I like the one by Nuxe. If my skin feels really dry, I use coconut oil on my face and on my body. I also have a cream that I picked up in the farmer’s market, which is made from bee pollen. It’s quite gross when you apply it, because it has a really specific smell.
The next day, you skin is incredible though! I never go to bed with makeup on; I think it’s really important to cleanse your skin daily, and really, really well. I like to mix things up, because I think your skin is really individual and also changes based on what time of year it is, what time of your life. And of course, you can put on a great product, but a lot of it is what you eat and how you hydrate.”
Anja’s Healthy Smoothie
“I love smoothies! I’ll just add a scoop of avocado, a spoon of coconut oil, banana, and a pear. Or, there’s another smoothie I make with kale—you have a little bit of kale, and then you add coconut oil, coconut water, almond milk, shaved almond flakes, and one date. It taste like heaven. It tastes like caramel!”
"My favorite black eyeliner is from a company called Inglot. I love it because it’s really, really black. It’s waterproof, and usually I try to stay away from waterproof products because they’re really difficult to wash off, but this one is incredible because it doesn’t move, but it washes off when you want it to. I apply it on the inside of the eye, then smudge it around. Then, I take a Q-Tip and clean up the edges with Bioderma ($13)."
Smoky Eye Tips
"I have this really great Burberry eye shadow that is completely brown. It’s Almond No. 06 and it was created by [makeup artist] Wendy Rowe, and I just kind of rub it all along the eyelid. The brown makes it more smoky, and even if the black isn’t perfect, it makes it smoother and makes the whole eye look sexier. Then I put some mascara and curl my lashes. I kind of like the look without the mascara, though. Sometimes with mascara, your eye becomes a little too pretty, too girly. If I'm going for a grungy look, I usually do no mascara at all."
"I do a few drops of MAC’s Face & Body Foundation ($27) and put it all over to even out my skin. I use La Mer’s concealer around the eyes and nose, then a taupe color on my cheeks or something more rouge. And then either I use lip liner that’s the color of my lips—MAC has a nice one—and I just smudge around a bit, or I take the same brown eye shadow that I used on the eye and tap it on my lips. It’s a trick Wendy Rowe showed me. You apply a little bit around the shape of your lips, and it makes your lips pop out.
Obviously you have to be careful you don’t create a mustache! I’m also obsessed with the Lip Cheat ($22) in Iconic Nude from Charlotte Tilbury—it’s incredible. And then sometimes—this is my top-secret trick—I like to draw on freckles. I actually use my lip pencil, it’s like the perfect pinkish nude. I just apply it on my finger and press it on my nose, or apply it on the skin. It gives a nice, sun-kissed youthful vibe. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t."
"The main thing is that your body body is your instrument of work. You have to think, 'I’m here to take of it.' You have to realize you have to take care of yourself, which means exercise, the right diet, and not just dieting. It’s a job; it’s something quite fascinating and it’s good to find out as much as you can about the profession. When I first started modeling, there was no Internet. That makes me sound old! I kind of entered a world that I only knew through Polish magazines. Nowadays, there’s all this knowledge out there.
Be aware and read up on new designers and stylists—consider it your job."