The Aerin Lauder Interview
Aerin Lauder, Founder & Creative Director, AERIN, is arguably one of America’s most discerning tastemakers. Growing up in a beauty dynasty, she has found her own voice and vision crafting truly beautiful fragrances and home décor collections. She shares an inside look at her creative process and inspirations.
A conversation with Aerin Lauder
Dave Lackie To start, tell us about how you approach the AERIN brand. It is beautifully edited and each collection almost looks like a gallery exhibit of exquisite items.
Aerin: AERIN has been an amazing journey. It is the perfect way for me to explore different ways to expand the modern woman’s lifestyle and provide the product she needs – from beauty and fashion to lifestyle and home. My brand makes me smile and I love to smile and laugh. Therefore, there is an element of delight in all aspects of the brand. I think that beauty should be pretty, it should give us joy and please all of our senses. The design, the packaging, the texture, the colors and the arrangement should always delight. The decision to strike out on my own was a risk that ultimately paid off. I’ve learned more in the last seven years than I ever thought was possible and it’s been an extremely fulfilling experience.
DL: You’ve grown up in a famous family known for creating beautiful fragrances. What did you learn growing up about scent and how it is imagined and created?
Aerin: Fragrance is my heritage and my passion- for as long as I can remember, I’ve been completely enchanted by it, it’s part of me. I’ve been surrounded by beauty my entire life, learning from my family and the team at Estée Lauder.
Estée always said you wouldn’t wear the same dress to play tennis and go out to dinner so why would you wear the same fragrance. That’s why I believe in having a fragrance wardrobe so you can choose your mood and feeling, not just for day and night, but also by season and occasion. The eleven distinct scents in the AERIN Fragrance Collection is a modern wardrobe of fragrances – fragrances that can be very personal to the woman who’s wearing them.
DL: Tell us about the quality of the ingredients in your fragrances. I think this is something that most consumers don’t understand – that you can smell really high quality ingredients. What is the most expensive ingredient you use in your scents?
Aerin: With my fragrances, there is an unexpected degree of luxury and quality in the materials used. I gravitate to the highest quality material of the luxury perfumery palette; I can smell it… it must just be in my DNA. By combining these materials in very creative ways, the AERIN Fragrance Collection brings a fresh outlook to the fragrance industry.
Each fragrance has a unique and distinctive composition – blends of rich, luxurious ingredients; fresh, sparkling essences; lushly textured florals; surprising additions. Each composition creates a special signature based on elements which capture wonderful memories from my life.
Rose de Grasse, one of my most favorite fragrances, blends three of the most celebrated and expensive rose essences, including Rose Centifolia, the quintessential opulent rose that is hand-picked in Grasse. It’s renowned for its spectacular hundred-petal blooms, and has been the cornerstone of perfumery for more than six centuries.
DL: What city in the world inspires you most and why?
Aerin: Vienna. I lived there as a young girl and I love the history, the elegance, and the luxurious style.
DL: The prints you use on your packaging are so elegant. What do you look for in a print or design for a product?
Aerin: Each carton features an exclusive print design and is carefully selected to reflect the spirit of the fragrance. For Aegea Blossom, we reimagined the exclusive print of Mediterranean Honeysuckle. Taking cues from the unrivaled blue waters and sun-drenched skies, the print has reemerged, but in a soft blue, coral and white palette.
DL: What are your all-time favorite flowers? And what is your favorite florist in the world?
Aerin: I love white florals – especially gardenia, tuberose and orange blossom. My favorite florists are Zeze Flowers and Raul Avila.
DL: Your grandmother was famous for really listening to her customers and creating products based on their desires and needs. Have you had any products or feedback that has really surprised you? Has a product you didn’t expect suddenly become a global hit?
Aerin: Amber Musk is one of our most successful fragrances. It’s a combination of amber and coconut, and we launched it about five years ago and it’s continued to be a success. It’s funny, I recently traveled to China to launch the brand, and we found that Amber Musk instantly became their most successful fragrance, so it truly is our global scent of success.
DL: How long does it take to create an AERIN fragrance? Can you tell us about the process?
Aerin: The length of time varies because so many factors are involved. Sometimes it can be as quick as 6 months but sometimes the process can take up to 2 years. It starts with an inspiration, concept and moodboard. I work closely with the product development, creative and marketing teams to translate this concept into a scent, package and ultimately a campaign. Sometimes we create the perfect fragrance in very few modifications (like Lilac Path) and sometimes the process takes a long time to find the perfect scent, design and execution.
DL: What is your favorite hotel in the world to escape to when you need a rest?
Aerin: The Ritz in Paris.
DL: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned creating the AERIN brand?
Aerin: “Telephone, Telegraph, Tell-A-Woman,” was one of my grandmother’s famous mottos. She understood the power of women and communication. I learned so much from her, especially the importance of connecting with customers. And I enjoy a benefit that my grandmother did not have – being able to connect with women through social media and share my love for fragrances and all things beauty.
DL: Is there one fragrance note that you love more than others?
Aerin: Rose has always been one of my favorite fragrance elements. It is a timeless symbol of beauty and femininity. It can be combined with unexpected ingredients and in interesting ways to make this time-honored, classic ingredient new and modern.
DL: What do you look for when thinking of an artistic collaboration?
Aerin: For collaborations, I look for brands and designers that fit into the AERIN philosophy of beauty and home living together with effortless style. The brands need to be like-minded but unexpected for our consumers.
Aerin Aegea Blossom
“Sailing in the vibrant blue Aegean Sea, with its clear light and cool breezes scented with orange flower, is a dream experience like no other.” – Aerin Lauder
Notes: radiant bergamot, verbena, jasmine, orange flower, neroli petals, musk, vetiver and sandalwood.
Aerin Aegea Blossom, eau de parfum
Aerin Amber Musk
“Amber Musk is a warm, inviting scent you want to wrap yourself in – like a soft cozy blanket on a cold snowy night.” – Aerin
Notes: coconut water, Rose Centifolia Absolute, benzoin, ambrox, sensual florals and musk.
Aerin Amver Musk, eau de parfum,
Aerin Mediterranean Honeysuckle
“Escape to the sun-drenched, azure Mediterranean with this eau de parfum” – Aerin Lauder
Notes: sweet honeysuckle, sparkling grapefruit, Italian bergamot, mandarin, lily of the valley, gardenia and jasmine sambac.
Aerin fragrances are available in Canada at esteelauder.ca