Aerin Lauder inherited much more than her famous Hamptons estate from her grandmother. Having long served as Estée Lauder's global creative director, Aerin followed in her grandmother's footsteps by launching her own eponymous line of beauty products in 2012. Since then the brand has quickly expanded into fashion and home accessories and partnered with Lee Jofa, E.J. Victor, and Visual Comfort on fabric, furniture, and lighting collections, respectively, inspired by her own stylish homes and lifestyle.
This week Lauder made a rare appearance in Houston, talking to Houstonia at the Aerin/Estée Lauder counter inside Neiman Marcus.
Q: You've expanded into so many different categories—beauty, accessories, fabrics, furniture, lighting— is there one that stands out for you as a particular passion?
A: I think the fragrance is very exciting, because it's about storytelling. To me fragrance is a wonderful mix of home and beauty. The names—Gardenia Rattan, Lilac Path, Waterlily Sun—it really does exude a sense of lifestyle.
Q: I've heard that roses are your favorite.
A: I've always loved roses. I don't know if that comes from my grandmother or not, but I love flowers and all the essentials [in the make-up collection]—the rose hand and body, whipped conditioner, the rose lip balm—all have this incredible rose infusion and fragrance. Even in the Evening Rose fragrance we have, it's rose and cognac, so it's a modern way of wearing roses.
The fragrances all have wonderful stories about them. Ikat Jasmine, which I'm wearing today, is like jeans and a white shirt, the blue and white with the Egyptian jasmine. Lilac Path was the last fragrance we completed, and we were on a completely different note and the lilac bush in my garden was blooming. My grandmother had planted it years before, and I took a picture of it and it was so beautiful, and obviously lilac is a color that's coming up in fashion and home and beauty, so I said ... "Should we change directions completely?" So we created this and it truly does smell like spring. It completely captures a true lilac.
Amber Musk is another very successful fragrance, it's amber and coconut, very warm and cozy. The coconut makes it kind of delicious and sweet. And Waterlily Sun is all about Monet's Giverny, dewy and lush. It's pretty and perfect for a hot Houston day.
Q: As we are approaching the holiday season, what are some of your favorite holiday memories?
A: I love the holidays. My grandmother's husband Joe was born on Christmas Eve, so we always celebrated his birthday at Christmastime. I love the family traditions: gift-giving, touches of red, candy and chocolates all over the table. The holidays are really special time because everyone's not working or in school and it's a wonderful time to catch up.
Q: Your line is very gift-able.
A: It's very much positioned as a wonderful hostess gift destination, whether it's the kabuki brush, the mint conditioner, a fragrance, or a candle. When you go into our store in Southampton there's wonderful little gifts for everyone.
I think it's good to really think about the hostess. If she likes flowers, maybe something floral; if her home is more cozy, maybe a candle. If they are beauty-obsessed, a brush or a lipstick. It's nice to target a gift specifically for someone rather than giving out 20 identical candles.
Q: How much is the look of your line evolving? Will gold always be the signature color?
A: I love gold, and I think I get that from Estée. You can tell from the compacts, she loved all types of gold: hammered gold, matte gold, shiny gold. There's something interesting about gold as a neutral. We mix it with lots of other things, with browns, with chocolates, shagreens, lavenders. We really play a lot with color.
Q: What inspires you when you're designing?
A: I'm inspired by so many different things: traveling, film, art, friends' homes. I love Instagram, it's such a voyeauristic idea. You can go into some amazing designers' homes and see something you've worked on or be inspired by the color palette.
Q: You decided to put your name on your company, just like your grandmother did. Does that make it more personal for you?
A: I think it does. I think it gives it a sense of authenticity. As Estée said, it has to be the best, because it's your name. I feel the same way. It has to be perfect.