Exclusive: Aerin Lauder on Fragrance, Fashion And Family
There’s no doubt that beauty is Aerin Lauder’s heritage. As the granddaughter of beauty doyenne Estée Lauder, Aerin's fondest childhood memories include spending weekends in Estée's dressing room, watching her grandmother put on make-up and going to international fashion shows with her as a teenager.
A style icon, businesswoman and mother of two, Aerin has been with Estée Lauder, founded by her grandmother, since 1992. Now the company's style and image director, the heiress has inherited more than just the family’s beauty empire and world-renowned last name—namely, a passion for beauty and style which is intrinsic to the Lauder DNA.
Living by the premise that “living beautifully should be effortless”, Aerin decided to create a luxury lifestyle brand that reflects her personal style, aptly named Aerin Beauty, in 2012.
Every piece in the product line—from fragrances and accessories to home décor—closely resembles Aerin’s aesthetic and inspires a beautiful lifestyle with a sense of ease. Described by its founder as "pretty, youthful and fresh", Aerin Beauty has become a staple in luxury homes and is sold in more than 40 countries.
To celebrate the launch of Aerin Beauty in China, we caught up with Aerin at The Peninsula Shanghai to chat about everything from travel tips to her beauty regime and China’s luxury consumers.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’d describe it as timeless and classic, but I always love a twist. I love wearing some colour or print. I definitely wear a lot of all black and it’s a very New York thing, but sometimes I like to incorporate a great piece of jewellery or a patterned shirt.
What was the most challenging part of going from running the family business to launching your own lifestyle brand?
The most challenging part was thinking outside of the box and creating something that felt authentic, was different and had a point of difference. There’s so much competition now and customers are savvier than ever—they know when something’s real and when something’s not.
When we were defining the brand and thinking of words to describe it, I felt very strongly about making sure it had a distinct point of view and didn’t feel like anything else out there—some brands were feminine and some were modern, but not feminine and modern. I think our sensibility of the brand, whether it is in beauty or home accessories, has that direction.
How did your grandmother inspire you?
Estée was incredible in a sense that she’s a real beauty mentor to me. She talked about how everything can be beautiful if you take the time and recognise the importance of great skincare and fragrance.
Her concept of having a wardrobe of fragrances was really the idea behind Aerin Beauty—the idea that you wouldn’t wear the same dress to play tennis as you would to have dinner, so why would you wear the same fragrance? That whole idea is very modern—it allows women to discover and explore the luxury fragrance category, which is doing really well right now because it’s fun, luxurious and special.
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What are your morning and evening skincare routines?
I love Advanced Night Repair. I’ve been using it since I was a teenager, and I think it’s the most incredible product and there’s something really amazing about the technology and the concept using it day and night. I think good skincare is really key—make-up doesn’t look good unless your skin looks good.
For make-up, I always use Re-Nutriv foundation, the Double Wear eyeliner, Sumptuous mascara and a bronzer.
How do you pull off an effortless look when travelling?
I always have a blazer with me and I think it’s really important to have your beauty routine down as well as your fashion. I always have a great scarf, simple accessories, and one great bag that I can use day to night.
I have a very strange technique: I have a little chair in my dressing room, and I start putting things on it a couple of days before I want to put them in the suitcase and then I look at it and go through it so I’m not frazzled the day before.
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Which city in the world are you most inspired by?
I think London is very inspiring. There’s a lot of amazing art coming out of there, the museums and textiles are great, a lot of designers.
I was also so inspired by Shanghai on this trip. I think China is really interesting, you see so many trends coming out of there. We went to some stores with new concepts that have not even hit the United States yet. I have to say New York is very inspiring, too. There’s so much to learn and see and be inspired by.
What is the home decor that can instantly brighten up the home?
I think there are certain things that make a room. Lighting—we have a lighting collection which has been phenomenal, and I really believe lighting can create a mood. Also, the colour of the walls—you might have no furniture in the room, but if it has a beautiful colour it feels finished.
I also think home accessories are interesting, it’s a category that we do very well. Our ceramic flowers are beautiful when put on your vanity, your bathroom or next to your bed. Home objects are like a kind of jewellery for the home.
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What opportunities for Aerin Beauty that you see in China that other markets might not have?
The consumers in China are very interesting, because they love luxury, heritage and storytelling. Estée Lauder does well here because all the elements are perfect for Chinese consumers—it’s luxury, it’s beautiful, it has a wonderful story about it.
I think Chinese consumers are very sophisticated, whether it’s in beauty or skincare trends—they are about experience and luxury at the highest level.
What do you foresee as upcoming trends in beauty, fashion, and home décor?
I think there are a lot of opportunities for femininity as you’re seeing it all over the runway and in the home. Pretty is back, like floral fragrances; I think the success of Gucci, for example, is having fun with "pretty".
There’s a lot of interesting florals, colours, animal prints, and I think people are having fun in feminine way.
What’s next for Aerin Beauty?
We’ve opened three stores in the US so we’re starting to think about other markets. We have other fragrances coming which will add to our brand’s beautiful portfolio.
We just did a lipstick collaboration with Johanna Ortiz and another collaboration with Cabana Magazine for a home line inspired by Vienna, so we’re starting to do more collaborations as a brand for both beauty and home.
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