We met up with designer Aerin Lauder at Uptown Park’s Longoria Collection; she’d just wrapped up stops around town at Circa Lighting and Neiman Marcus to meet customers and fans of vast her lifestyle brands. She seemed at home at Longoria, perhaps because everything within arm’s reach of our conversation is one of her designer wares. In 2012 Aerin Lauder left her family’s namesake company Estee Lauder to start her own brand and she hasn’t looked back – except to find inspiration.
My grandmother inspires me by her sense of style and her drive; but I think my mother most inspires me, she taught me how to make something into a home.
Kate: Did you ever think you would have all of these collections?
Aerin: Well, yes and no. I’ve always loved home. I always say that my dollhouse was my favorite toy. So there has always been a side of me that thought about having the brands that would incorporate the things that I love.
Kate: What would you say is the common thread through all of your collections?
Aerin: I think modern, feminine, and there is an element of heritage. Whether it’s a table or lamp or a chandelier, they are each inspired by something in my life. Whether it’s a chandelier that was in a café in Vienna or a coffee table from the 60s, there is this inspiration from the past with a modern approach.
Kate: What are a couple of pieces with the best story behind them, like you referenced the chandelier inspired by Vienna?
Aerin: Well that one is one of my favorites. I have the original one in my bedroom in NYC, where I spend so much of my time, so I look at it every day. I wake up and it’s the first thing I see and it’s the last thing I see. There is a coffee table here (White Cocktail Table) inspired by a piece of my grandmother’s (Estee Lauder) jewelry. She lent me a lot of beautiful gold bracelets so its one of hers all woven together almost just like the bottom of the table. There’s a great chair in the collection called The Joseph and that’s named after my grandfather and he used to sit in his chair for hours at night with a scotch and sometimes a cigar.
Kate: So it’s like a dedication?
Aerin: It definitely is.
Kate: What do you collect?
Aerin: Shells, old straw hats, shoes, handbags, and I like vintage charm bracelets.
Kate: Is anything in your collection based on things you collect?
Aerin: Yes, there’s a lot of shell inspiration in the products that we do. I’ve always loved the beach. My grandmother didn’t actually like the beach and my dad doesn’t like the beach…I’m probably the only person in my family that likes it. I’m so happy on the beach any time of year.
Kate: If you could get inside anyone’s head who would it be?
Aerin: Picasso. He was so ahead of his time. He was modern — even when he would wear that striped shirt and jeans.
Kate: Hidden talent?
Aerin: Operating on no sleep.
Kate: Best gift to give for the holidays?
Aerin: I love the idea of giving a candy dish full of candy. My grandmother used to always have candy on the table even during dinner and I was reading Valentino’s book and he does the same thing. There’s something kind of decadent about candy.
Kate: Best idea for a stocking stuffer?
Aerin: Probably our kabuki makeup brush. It’s this really beautiful soft incredible textured brush for the face.
Kate: What is your secret to great skin?
Aerin: Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair… and I think having Estee as a grandmother. She taught me at such a young age to take care of your skin because she used to say, “You only have one face. Take care of it. Makeup doesn’t look good on skin that’s not taken care of.” So I started at a very young age. Serums are incredible but when I was in my teens I was using Clinque’s Three Steps. I think I started when I was 5 and everyone else didn’t get it until they were 12.