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Aerin Lauder’s Key to Timeless Style

The founder and creative director of AERIN and granddaughter of beauty industry titan Estée Lauder reveals what she’s learned about elegance

If there is a recipe for timelessness, Aerin Lauder, granddaughter of beauty industry revolutionary Estée Lauder, has figured it out. Achieving timeless style requires an ability to marry the traditional with the fresh and modern, to combine heritage with spirit. As style and image director of Estée Lauder and founder and creative director of AERIN, Lauder does this on a daily basis, both in her business decisions as well as in the classic and polished personal style for which she is known.

Years before the launch of her own brand, Lauder learned the value of tradition while working at the family company, honing her business acumen and designer’s eye as Estée Lauder’s creative director. “Estée Lauder has an incredible heritage as a company,” she says. “It was started in 1946, and the best advice I learned there was the importance of maintaining your heritage and really understanding and accepting the past and evolving to work with the present.” This is exactly what Lauder would eventually do with AERIN, creating a brand that combined her knowledge of her family’s iconic cosmetics business with her passion for other forms of beauty—namely, exquisite home items and accessories.

Beauvais Velvet Jewelry Box, AERIN, $975, aerin.com.

Her namesake brand launched in 2012 and spans fragrance, beauty, home and accessories, each category evoking effortless sophistication. “There’s an element of heritage,” she notes, again using the word “heritage,” thereby revealing its importance in the design of something timeless. Each detail in the line has a history—for example, each fragrance conjures the story of a different destination. The candle packaging is the creation of different watercolor artists, and the signature gold touches—found in the cap of a fragrance bottle or the lid of a candle—come from Estée herself. Says Lauder of the gold details, “I think I learned to love gold from my grandmother. She used to say gold is a neutral, and she always wore gold jewelry. She had elements of gold in her home. She was very iconically known for having gold wallpaper with birds on it. It’s warm. It’s luxurious. It’s one of the three colors of the brand.”

Hibiscus Palm Eau de Parfum, AERIN, $120, aerin.com.

Beyond the brand, Lauder also emphasizes the importance of heritage in her personal style—a look that would be deemed elegant and tasteful regardless of the decade. “I think my personal style is quite timeless,” she muses. She loves simple accessories, a beautiful pair of black pants, a silk shirt. She’s worn the same watch for twenty-two years. Her style icons are her friends, other effortlessly chic women: Moda Operandi’s Lauren Santo Domingo and Net-a-Porter’s Alison Loehnis.

It is no surprise that her beauty routine also reflects a tastefulness and simplicity learned through years of watching Estée apply makeup. “My routine is very, very simple but very consistent,” Lauder says. First, she washes her face with a favorite from her own line: the AERIN Rose Cleanser, followed by a moisturizer and a little foundation. She recalls a childhood memory, watching Estée create her own foundation concoction. “I remember my grandmother mixing her foundation with her Re-Nutriv cream, and that was the beginning of the Re-Nutriv Foundation,” says Lauder, referencing the cult classic product. “So, Re-Nutriv has always been a part of my upbringing,” she continues. “I use [the cream] every day, twice a day. And then I put on foundation, Re-Nutriv Foundation, actually.”

Shagreen Tic Tac Toe Set, AERIN, $695, aerin.com.

In the next year, Lauder plans to continue to evolve AERIN, while staying true to the classic she has created. This spring, the brand will unveil an accessories line inspired by Palm Beach, plus a new fragrance, Hibiscus Palm. As she talks about the upcoming launches, it’s apparent that Lauder really loves what she does. She reflects on a piece of career advice once given to her by Estée. “Whatever you do, do it well and do it with passion,” Lauder recalls, “and I have never felt more strongly about that than when I was starting my own company five years ago.”

The timelessness of AERIN is most apparent when it comes to who gravitates toward the product. “I guess you could say it’s for 25-plus,” says Lauder, “but in Southampton over the summer, a man came in with his 12-year-old daughter who loves my lip conditioner.” AERIN doesn’t change with the trends, nor does it target a demographic, but rather, it combines the classic with the spirited, producing a product that transcends age. “It’s really more about state of mind,” Lauder says. The AERIN woman is ageless, effortless. And that is timeless.