As the granddaughter of Estée Lauder and Creative Director of the esteemed cosmetics company which she founded, Aerin Lauder sure knows a thing or two about leading a beautiful life. Having spent the last two decades (and most likely even more than that considering her family ties) involved in a world of make up and fragrance, it almost goes without saying that the New Yorker has been surrounded by pretty things all her life. And that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. The catalogue of her own luxury lifestyle brand, AERIN, is proof that a passion for beauty (cosmetic or otherwise) is intrinsic to the Lauder DNA.
Aerin founded her eponymous lifestyle brand in 2012 under the guidance of Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Running the gauntlet of lifestyle products from fashion to cosmetics to homeware, AERIN has become a brand well-favoured of the style contingent for its pretty aesthetic (even the packaging delights), subtle glamour and refined quality. It’s about as perfect as brands come.
Of the brand’s various facets, the interiors selection is particularly impressive which seems to be the result of an untapped love of Aerin’s. In an interview with Architectural Digest, she revealed, “People always say beauty is my heritage but my real passion is home.”
Having teamed with some of the industry’s best manufacturers (like lighting specialists Visual Comfort and E J Victor), the brand offers a feminine aesthetic (elegant rather than twee) with a thoroughly old-school glamour appeal.
Inspirations range from antique pieces Aerin has picked up on her travels, iconic decorative arts (Russian jewellery brand Fabergé has encouraged the designer in her use of gold) and Art Deco dining chairs which belonged to her grandmother.
“It’s something that my grandmother actually taught me – that gold is a beautiful modern neutral and it works with anything,” Aerin explained to AD, “Gold is warm, it’s inviting, it’s luxurious and a touch of gold adds an element of gold to a room. That’s the trick – not too much gold, but just a little bit.”
"Gold is a beautiful modern neutral and it works with anything."
Hearing Aerin talk about her grandmother, it’s clear that visiting her in her immaculately kept New York townhouse is one of her fondest childhood memories. “The interiors were largely inspired by turn of the century Viennese architect and designer Josef Hoffmann layered with décor from significant French, Italian, and German movements,” Aerin explains, “I spent a lot of time there throughout my childhood and remember it as a treasure trove of beautiful things. [Its] interior design has served as the creative spark for so many pieces AERIN’s collection, from textured gold vessels to reactive glaze porcelain.”
Materials like these are clearly an important aspect of the AERIN range. Silhouettes are kept fairly timeless, allowing the beauty of their materials to make the statement. The collection’s raw materials list includes natural agate, hand-applied 24 carat gold leaf and exquisite shagreen.
“Most people associate shagreen with the Art Deco period, but I consider it a timeless classic,” Aerin says of the textural material, “[It] has been used extensively in the new home décor range, which we’ve kept simple and elegant with minimal brass detailing to show off this beautiful material’s pebbled finish.” This range – which includes jewellery boxes, matchstrikers and coaster sets – is executed perfectly in true Aerin style.
“So many aspects of my life influence me, but artists are a regular source of inspiration for my collection.” The founder goes on to cite abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler and minimalists Yves Klein and Robert Mangold as some of these inspirational creatives.
“When I spotted a 1950s bowl in a shop in Vienna, I knew immediately that I wanted to recapture its beautiful scallop-edged design and warm shades in my decorative accessories,” Aerin says of how her inspirations become reality, “It was the inspiration behind the Maurice collection of vases and bowls in an eggplant hue paired with 18k gold. Every [piece] has a unique pattern.”
"So many aspects of my life influence me, but artists are a regular source of inspiration for my collection."
Uniqueness seems to be Aerin’s calling card – not in the sense of being revolutionary (she’s too graceful for that) but unique in the sense of rare. These days, to find a new brand which has so much heritage; a brand which does the full range and does it well; and a brand which is brilliantly refreshing is a rare thing which shouldn’t be ignored.