Aerin Lauder, founder and creative director of the luxury lifestyle brand AERIN, had worked in the family business (and we know we don’t need to tell you what that is) for more than 20 years before she branched out on her own. So it’s really no surprise that Aerin has been a raging success. It’s also not surprising, as you’ll read here, how much she was influenced by her iconic grandmother.
I know you were very close with your grandmother. What kind of influence did she have on you?
Well, I think my first memory of her was her smell. We’d get into the car and it would always smell like a fragrance she was working on. She loved Bulgarian roses or the rose scent. There was always a succession of rose.
She always saw the importance of working hard, being passionate, being focused. She had so many famous quotes. “I didn’t get here by dreaming for it, I got here by working for it.” She loved to work every day till she was in her 80s. She really had a passion. She always said, “Whatever you do, do it well. Love what you do.” And that’s something I think about every day.
There were just so many layers to her. Just watching her live her life from the second she woke up and put on some fabulous bathrobe and slippers and put makeup on to go downstairs, and then she would set the table for dinner. Like it was a fashion show. She loved life, she loved style, she loved people.
She was way ahead of her time.
Very much so. When you think about her advertising, she was the first person really to put jeans in an ad. One of her most famous ads was something we’re so used to today. It was the fifties and it was a nude woman–so risque. Even when you look at her old ads, she had a woman in riding pants and it was way before Ralph Lauren even existed. There’s a picture of Karen Brown fly-fishing and, it’s just iconic. This idea of a beautiful woman fly-fishing was so disruptive and modern. Even the idea that she created the gift with purchase! She felt that no matter who you were–even if you were the Duchess of Windsor–you still wanted a free gift.
Where do you get your inspiration from today?
I actually get it from so many things–friends, family, heritage, travel, personality, style icons. It really varies. Sometimes we’re going through old images of Jane Birkin and her love of straw baskets. We have a raffia collection, all different shapes and sizes. I think that’s what’s so exciting about the world we live in. It’s the power of the digital age, even if you’re not in Capri, you can be inspired by it and create a whole Capri collection. A lot of the elements of our brand, whether it’s fragrance or candles or even when you walk into our store, you are very much taken someplace, it’s a wonderful escape.
How would you describe your personal style, and does it carry across all of your product lines?
I have a very feminine, timeless sense of style. I think you see that in my beauty products, my home, even in my fashion. Right now, I’m wearing a simple pair of black suede sandals, flower Chloe dress, minimal makeup, minimal jewelry. And I think that sensibility is translated in all of our different categories.
What do you think about current trends? Do you stick to your own thing or are you inspired by what’s going on today?
It depends. Trends are trends and I think it’s fun to be inspired, but you have to take what works for you and works for your customer and brand. Like black nail polish is a trend, but it might not be right for your brand.
Beauty has been such a big part of your life. How has it changed as you’ve gotten older?
Everything changes and beauty is no different. These days, I want richer creams and use more serums. Skincare is particularly important. We just recently launched products within our skincare category for Aerin. We have a beautiful cleanser, a mask, a multipurpose cream with a universal color piece at the end of it. It’s this wonderful on the go touch of color.
Let’s talk about work/life balance. How do you do it?
It’s really important to take some time for yourself every day. Whether it’s picking up the phone to call a friend, going for a walk, looking at a magazine. It’s really important to take care of yourself. I learned that from my mother and grandmother, even if it was just 10 or 15 minutes, it’s really important to make sure you feel happy and fulfilled.
When’s Aerin time?
I love to exercise in the morning. I’m definitely better in the morning than the night. In the evenings, I love to walk in the park, or in the summertime when I’m out on Long Island, on the beach. When I get home from work, after I get out of my clothes and put on something comfortable, I love to pick up the phone and call a friend. That’s still the best way to catch up and relax.
I love that you pick up the phone and call someone.
I do, I really do. I love to talk. Oh … also in the morning? I get up, make coffee and go on Instagram. To me, that’s always a fun catch-up way to see what’s going on visually.
You do your own Instagram?
You don’t look or act your age. Is there something we should all be doing to stay young?
I think good skincare is really important. Estee has this amazing quote, “You only have one face, take care of it.” And I keep that in mind as I’m growing older. Use the right skincare products, sleep a lot, drink a lot of water. I think good skin is a very important part of growing old.
You’re a big entertainer, right?
I love to entertain in the summer in a very casual way. I’m known for doing a long table with delicious summer food, all different age guests. I love to invite a family with their children, I think there’s nothing better than that. There’s something really nice about welcoming people, particularly good friends, into your home and having a delicious meal. I think it’s also nice to bring in people who don’t know each other.
Do you have a go-to summer menu?
Paella is easy and delicious–everybody kind of likes something in paella. There’s also nothing better than a classic American barbecue. The first weekend of summer when my kids are home, I love to barbecue. Tomato, mozzarella, corn, hot dogs, hamburgers. To me, that defines summer.
Do you have a favorite go-to hostess gift?
I love to bring candles. We have a beautiful candle collection. The packaging is so pretty, you don’t even have to wrap it. We have all these different sets depending on if the person is more spicy or tropical. There’s something for everyone.
What are you reading these days?
I haven’t finished it yet but I’m reading the Bunny Mellon book. It’s great. She was so quirky and stylish. I love that she ate breakfast every day on a butterfly wood tray. Really feminine, interesting. Loved to collect. Very inspiring.
Are you a big online shopper?
I am. I mean, I still love the experience of shopping in a store. There’s nothing I love more than going to Paris or London and just walking around and discovering new things. But I definitely buy things online. I love Moda Operandi. They’re great.
What’s your go-to outfit that you feel your best in?
What’s your go-to shoe?
I’m really loving all the mules right now. I think they’re so wearable, so easy. Tabitha Simmons has great ones.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten?
Definitely my children.