Fashion / Beauty

More Than Estée Lauder’s Granddaughter — How Aerin Lauder Built Her Own Lifestyle Brand Into a 10-Year-Old Force

The PaperCity Interview

BY // 09.26.22

Aerin Lauder is revisiting the earliest impressions from her childhood to celebrate her eponymous brand’s first decade of business. That’s right, AERIN turned 10 this September, having spun off feminine fashions, beloved home goods, and, of course, a stable of signature scents. This milestone takes Lauder back to her grandmother’s vanity table, which has in many ways become the inspiration for much of her own lifestyle brand.

To be sure Aerin Lauder has a famous last name. She is the granddaughter of the legendary Estée Lauder herself.

The rare female founder of her day, Estée Lauder was widely regarded as a marketing genius. She created a fabled beauty empire as a woman CEO, at a time when no one had heard of such a thing. She’s the one that came up with offering a free gift with purchase ― a trademark move that still creates a feeding frenzy at Estee Lauder and Clinique counters seasonally. It’s also a strategy that has been adopted by nearly all of her competitors. Lauder’s marketing prowess made her beauty brands sought after worldwide.

Aerin Lauder cut her teeth in the family business learning the ropes of product concepting and marketing from one of the top teams in the beauty business. She worked at Estée Lauder for 25 years before launching AERIN in 2012, which includes a beauty collection and is especially known for her singular perfume creations. Aerin Lauder is the founder and creative director at AERIN and remains the style and image director at Estée Lauder.

Now, AERIN is synonymous with refined elegance, having become a well-rounded and unapologetically feminine lifestyle brand. It includes an ever-expanding line of clothing, home decor, accessories and beauty products. It is also now found in 46 markets around the globe. Stand-alone AERIN stores can be found in Southampton, East Hampton, Palm Beach and Miami, with that store having opened in January.

Over the past decade, AERIN has launched 24 fragrances. AERIN’s Rose de Grasse line got its inspiration from its founder’s cherished trips to the Italian coast, especially the island of Capri. These are scents that spring from Capri’s light and, of course, its flowers.

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A special scent to celebrate AERIN's first decade - Rose de Grasse Joyful Bloom.
A special scent to celebrate AERIN’s first decade – Rose de Grasse Joyful Bloom.

On the occasion of its 10th year anniversary, Aerin Lauder is returning to her grandmother’s vanity once more with the new Fall collections. The anniversary collection introduces AERIN’s first-ever Vanity Table and its newest fragrance dubbed Rose de Grasse Joyful Bloom. There are also exclusive collaborations with heritage British luggage brand Tanner Krolle, French bedding line D. Porthault and ceramic artist Frances Palmer, adding to the elegance of the modern vanity table.

PaperCity talked to Aerin Lauder about it all:

PaperCity: What piece of advice, that you received from Estée has guided you either in your personal life or in your business?

Aerin Lauder: My grandmother always talked about the importance of being authentic. She said that if you are passionate and true, success will come. To me, there is no better advice. I have valued this idea since I was a young girl.

PC: I know Estée introduced the idea of a “wardrobe” of scents to suit the mood and occasion, but she must have had a favorite. What was it? Why do you think fragrance is so powerful?

Aerin: Fragrance is so powerful because it can really transport you to a specific time or place. One thing I love most about the AERIN wardrobe of fragrances is that each one was inspired by a memory, or a destination and immediately takes you there.

Storytelling is a major element of the AERIN brand, and each one of our fragrances tells a story and transcends you to a magical place.

If my grandmother had to choose a favorite fragrance, it would probably be Beautiful. Estée loved Bulgarian Rose, so every fragrance that she worked on had an element of rose to it. This is my earliest scent memory, so it is very close to me.

PC: Describe your personal style?

Aerin: I would describe my personal style as timeless and classic, but I always love a twist. I often wear a lot of black, which feels very New York to me, but I also like to incorporate a floral element, a fun accessory, or a touch of color depending on the location and occasion.

My grandmother Estée also taught me that gold is a neutral, so I am always wearing some sort of gold accessory for an elevated finishing touch.

PC: Describe Rose de Grasse Joyful Bloom? What made it perfect for your 10th anniversary as you revisit your history and heritage?

Aerin: Rose is part of my heritage. It was my grandmother’s favorite flower and a scent that always makes me think of her. Roses are a flower that everyone connects to. They are comforting, beautiful and recognizable.

The AERIN Beauty Rose Premier Collection felt like the perfect way to tell that story. Sitting alongside Rose de Grasse and Rose de Grasse Pour Filles, Joyful Bloom is the most wonderful addition to the collection to honor the 10 years of the brand.

The fragrance is inspired by New York City, the birthplace of AERIN, my memories, my heritage and the many urban gardens that inspire me every day. Joyful Bloom is filled with notes of Indian Rose, Italian Bergamot and Australian Sandalwood to create a scent that is happy and vibrant.

The AERIN x Tanner Krolle Wicket bag elevates the modern vanity.
The AERIN x Tanner Krolle Wicket bag elevates the modern vanity.

PC: You must love all the fragrances you’ve created over the past 10 years, but besides your newest Joyful Bloom, what is your personal go-to?

Aerin: I love to rotate my fragrance. I think that is what makes it fun. In my dressing room in New York, I have five or six fragrances and I always have lab samples of something that I am working on. I got that from Estée. She always had lab samples on her desk.

I think it depends on the season and the mood. After all, my grandmother always used to say, “You wouldn’t wear the same dress to have dinner as you would to play tennis, why would you wear the same fragrance?”

I do love Rose de Grasse though, and that is the fragrance I turn to most often. Right now, I am also gravitating toward Cedar Violet and Amber Musk as they are both the perfect cold weather, cozy scent. This past summer, I was on holiday in Italy, so of course, I brought Mediterranean Honeysuckle.

PC: AERIN has another hallmark I think ― your rich collaborations. Speak to the importance of collaborations for AERIN and how the creative process stretches you?

Aerin: We always try to collaborate with partners that share similar values, which makes working together very easy. Like-minded brands are the perfect partners for us because we are able to collaborate, share ideas and work together towards a single goal. Many of the brands that we collaborate with, I have actually discovered on Instagram.

The most successful partnerships are the result of organic relationships established by brands that are truly inspired by one another. These types of limited-edition capsule collaborations have allowed us to explore new categories and reach new audiences through a network of talented partners.

AERIN is collaborating for the third time with celebrated potter France Palmer.
AERIN is collaborating for the third time with celebrated potter France Palmer.

PC: I understand for your 10th anniversary you are debuting collaborations with British luggage brand Tanner Krolle, French bedding line D. Porthault and ceramic artist Frances Palmer. Is there a common thread?

Aerin: Each collaboration is unique and special in its own way, but similar in the sense that they were all created with AERIN to make your life, your home, or your wardrobe more beautiful.

These bespoke collections were inspired by travel, heritage and craftsmanship to create products that infuse both brands’ DNA and offer an element of surprise and delight to our customer.

PC: Travel informs AERIN products as well as the design of your own homes. Are you a beach person or a mountain person?

Aerin: I have to say I love nature in all forms. I am constantly inspired by my surroundings and the beauty of the world around us.

It depends on my mood and the season, but many pieces in the AERIN collection are inspired by the beach and the sea, while other elements have been inspired by a cozy winter moment, the mountains and the snow.

PC ― Your fourth store opened this year in Miami. Do you have any plans for a Texas outpost?

Aerin: I would love to eventually open an AERIN location in Texas. I love visiting Texas and the response to the brand in that area has been remarkable. We are always looking to grow and expand into new territories and Texas is definitely on our radar.

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