moving from Chicago to L.A. when she was 19, Loree
Rodkin has worked as a Hollywood talent manager
and a party planner for rockers. She is now a
high-demand jewelry designer.
designer Loree Rodkin has just picked a cookie off a
plate in the cafe at Ikram, the high-end womenís
clothing boutique in Chicago, when she sees a smiling
face approaching. Itís Stingís manager, Kathy
Schenker, whoís in town with him for his new musical,
"The Last Ship."
had no idea you were here," Schenker says. "Iíll
we all can meet up for a drink later," Rodkin says.
stars have always seemed to align in this way for Rodkin.
Through three careers spanning more than 40 years, she
has decorated the homes of rockers such as Alice Cooper
and Rod Stewart. As a talent manager, she scored a young
unknown ó Brad Pitt ó his role in "Thelma &
hobby making jewelry landed her Elizabeth Taylor as a
client. Rodkin went on to drape Michelle Obama in
diamonds at the 2009 inauguration. Those pieces now
reside in the Smithsonianís permanent collection.
all started with a move at age 19 from her native
Chicago to Los Angeles. There, a party-planning job led
to a relationship with Don Henley of the Eagles.
she dated and decorated the home of Bernie Taupin, the
lyricist for Elton John. That spiraled into other
interior-design gigs for rockers and pop stars ó and
countless connections. (Cher became her best friend.)
credits one client from her days as a talent manager ó
Robert Downey Jr. ó for her most recent reinvention,
as a designer of fine jewelry. Coveted for a "Game
of Thrones" edginess, her signature pieces include
full-finger bondage rings that articulate over the
knuckle like miniature suits of armor.
sat down during a recent trunk show to talk about her
"affliction for rock Ďní roll" and her
revisionist history. What follows is an edited
You started out as an interior decorator?
It was really my escape clause from Henley. I had
designed an apartment so I could move into it. I was
kind of over our relationship.
I dated a Russian ballet dancer who had just defected,
Alexander Godunov. I was going to ditch him, so he asked
me to manage him. Thatís how I became a manager.
managed Brad Pitt, Sarah Jessica Parker, Billy Zane,
Kyra Sedgwick, Judd Nelson ...
You managed Brad Pitt?
I got Brad "A River Runs Through It" and
"Thelma & Louise." The producers (of
"Thelma") were like, "Please donít call
us back. Heís very cute, but heís not very
talented." We stalked them, and they just couldnít
find "the guy." Brad got the part, as the last
You made jewelry as a hobby at age 12. How did it become
more than that?
When Robert (Downey Jr.) was drugging so badly, I made
jewelry to keep myself awake at night; I would rescue
him from wherever he was partying. I made myself a
diamond skull ring in 1988 in the midst of Robertís
madness, and the L.A. store Maxfield saw it and launched
What do you consider yourself first and foremost?
I consider myself an aesthetic. Everything has been
about design. Management was just an offshoot of having
an opinion, an aesthetic opinion, of how their careers
should look. It was the í80s; there was nothing very
serious. We were paid to play and show up at restaurant
openings. It was a fun, mad, not very mature time.
I was so square: no drugs, no alcohol. I donít like
the taste. Iíve probably still only had four drinks in
my life. I lived through the madness completely
Maxfield saw the diamond skull ring, a girlfriend who
was one of the Gettys saw it and hired me to do some
presents for Elizabeth Taylor. I started at the top by
accident. Elizabeth would come to my house in her
pajamas, or Iíd go to her house in my pajamas, and sheíd
say, "Letís look at the blue ones today."
Name some major milestones as a jewelry designer.
Elizabeth was one. Then Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith) went
on TV and said he wasnít cool until he had my jewelry.
Then Madonna went on the radio and said the only thing
she wanted for her 50th birthday was more of my jewelry.
Then Ikram (Goldman, the Chicago fashion magnate who
provided style counsel to Michelle Obama) put me in the
inauguration was extraordinary for my career. Mrs. Obama
had worn a pair of my earrings on election night. I
thought, those earrings look so much like mine; someone
knocked me off. Then I realized they were mine, and I
just couldnít wrap my head around it.
I got a call from (former White House social secretary)
Desiree Rogers, I said, "I think you might have the
wrong person; do you know what my jewelry looks
like?" She said, "No, itís you we mean.
Would you like to design something for the inauguration?
But you canít tell anyone." I hung up the phone
and called Cher. I said, "You canít tell
anyone." Then she hung up and called her whole
How did you develop your dark jewelry aesthetic?
Iím an absence-of-color girl. I was a rock chick, and
there was nothing of interest to me on the market. It
was Van Cleef and Tiffany and Cartier and all serious
had this suit of armor in my entryway, and Iíd always
play with it, I was mesmerized by the way it moved. The
articulated ring (inspired by it) was certainly not
anything I thought would be trendsetting.
day I called my secretary and gave her my (talent
management) company. I said, "Iím going to be a
Brad became Brad Pitt. My accountant was like,
"Next time you change careers, please donít give
your business away. Sell it." But it all turned out
the way it was supposed to. I got lucky. I take nothing