It’s hard to find a name more iconic in beauty than Estée Lauder, and her granddaughter, Aerin Lauder is following in her footsteps. Her lifestyle brand AERIN – which includes beauty, home decor and accessories – is slowly becoming a household name, as she continues the legacy of inspiring entrepreneurial women everywhere. In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, we caught up with Lauder at her Madison Avenue boutique and chatted on everything from entertaining tips and Estée’s legacy to the retail experience today.
From start to finish what would be your ideal food day?
There’s nothing I love more than eggs, bacon, hash browns, and an English muffin – with coffee. And then for lunch, if I had my dream it’d maybe be a turkey burger. For dinner, probably steak and French fries. That would be my dream day.
How do you always start your day? What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
I always wash my face and use Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair. I’ve been using it twice a day since I was in my teens. I put a moisturizer on – right now I absolutely love our Night Table cream. I don’t put my makeup on yet. I get up wash my face, get a coffee, exercise, and then come back home and put my makeup on.
I always use Re-Nutriv Foundation, so I have a clean face. My Grandmother (Estée Lauder) always used to say “You only have one face. Take care of it.” She really stressed the importance of good skincare because makeup doesn’t look good unless your skin looks good – so lots of water, sleep, minimal sun, moisturizer…
I like to be sun-kissed all year round, so I use a bronzer after foundation, as well as a chocolate brown eyeliner and a black mascara – so it’s pretty consistent.
At night, I do Advanced Night Repair, and then if my skin is really dry or I’ve been travelling I might use a slightly richer cream. I love Crème de la Mer.
How would you describe your personal fashion and entertaining styles?
I think my personal entertaining, beauty and fashion style is all consistent. I love a very elegant, polished look, but I still like it to be effortless. There’s nothing I love more than having good friends around, and bringing people who don’t know eachother into the mix and having a delicious dinner in a cozy environment, with candles, music, great wine and food. I try to make it very inviting.
Do you believe that what surrounds a plate is as important as what’s on it?
Definitely. I’m having a dinner tonight for very good friends, and I’ve decided all the flowers are pinks and purples, I’ve done the menu, and set the table of course – I always do the table the night before. I love it to be perfect and do the seating, etc. I think all the different elements make the night a success. The food has to be great, but I think it’s a combination of the flowers, the people, and the tabletop.
I learned from the best – my Mother is the most amazing hostess. Even today she’s like ‘Oh can I come over and see your table?’ and I’m sure she’ll find something wrong with it! (Laughs) She always really taught me the importance of attention to detail – anywhere in the home. She’s always been incredibly inspiring. And Estée was the same way. My grandmother was more formal in the way she entertained – it was a different era. She would always give someone a little present – a little compact, or sometimes she was known for printing the menu on a handkerchief…so old world and chic. Estée really had that incredible attention to detail as well.
How would you say this retail experience is different from others?
Well, I think retail is completely changing. I really see a trend in alternative retail concepts. It’s about experience, surprise, delight, something special and unique. The customer is savvier than ever – she’s digitally able to travel the world and shop the world without even leaving her desk. Therefore, retail has to be really special. I love the idea of what we’ve done with these few stores that are all about edit. My Uncle has this incredible quote: “Act global but think local.” – and that’s definitely something I’ve applied to our retail strategy. Our Southampton store has a totally different edit than our Palm Beach or New York store. It’s our point-of-view and our lifestyle, but then we’ve edited it depending upon the area’s sensibility.
Do you think designers now have to make their retail an experience in order to be successful?
I think without a doubt. It’s really important to surprise and delight. Price point is also really important – to have a great entry-level product. We focus on having entry-level product in all categories, and then we also have the most over the top chagrin backgammon set, or a fragrance with a hand-dipped gold bottle. We really do make sure we have a range of prices and product.
What is your personal definition of good content?
Quality and authenticity.
What’s something you were insecure about growing up that you felt like you had to overcome?
My hair! I always had wavy hair, and at the time [growing up] everyone wanted blonde, perfectly straight silky hair. I wanted pin-straight, blond hair – and I used to iron my hair. As fashion has changed and times have changed, I love my hair now. It’s probably my favorite quality. I hated that natural beach wave, and now I love it! When I was twelve and thirteen I wanted perfect blonde hair – and now I’m very happy I don’t have that.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Probably ‘Whatever you do, do it well.’ My Grandmother always said have passion and drive and love what you do. I always tell my children that.
I think following trends too specifically (was the worst advice). It’s important to embrace your age and act your age, and I think trends are trends and it’s great in the sense of a journalistic point of view, but you don’t necessarily have to embrace them.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I think from everywhere. I get it from friends, travel, museums, exhibitions, hotels and destinations…those are very inspiring to me. A lot of our product is inspired by destinations. We have a whole candle collection inspired by different places in the South of France, Colorado, England…The same goes for our fragrances, which are always tied to a story or experience from some place.
Is there a hotel you’ve always been inspired by?
I think the Ritz in Paris is amazing. I remember going as a little girl, and I’ve always loved it. It was just redone by Thierry Despont who I’ve known for years, so I was so excited to go this past June and I loved it. I think it is so inspiring. From the soap (which I can’t lie, I stole (laughs)), and the coasters…I just think it is so beautifully French feminine aspirational…the little garden, the bar in your room…It’s just flawless. I also think Italian hotels are really inspiring. Our fragrances are very inspired by that – we have one called Mediterranean Honeysuckle inspired by the Mediterranean and those beautiful floors in Capri. The Italian sensibility is always beautiful.
Any colors you’re loving right now?
I think pink is really interesting. Playing with different tones of pink is great – bright pink, dirty lavender pink…and I still love green all the time.
What’s your favorite old Hollywood film?
Who is your style icon?
My Grandmother. Recently I was working on a project and was in the archives, and I found two or three picutres I had never seen of her. She never ceases to surprise me. She always had amazing style – she’s feminine, she’s modern, she’s beautiful. She was just a very modern woman., and very inspirational.
If you could come up with a quote to sum up your current mood and mode, what would it be?
Be Yourself. You have to embrace who you are and love who you are, and then I think, you’ll be happy.
Estée also had this amazing quote. She used to say “Telephone, telegraph, tell a woman.” It was the power of communication. When I think about the power of Instagram and Facebook – listening to other women, and the idea of being inspired by other women…that’s a good one.