July 18, 2017
by WILLIAM NORWICH | July 12, 2013 | People
White linen tunic, Michael Kors (price on request). 19 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 267-2200. The boyfriend short, Current/ Elliot ($176). Life’style, 127 Main St., Sag Harbor, 725-1667. Straw hat, Lola Hats (price on request). Gail Rothwell, 66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 324-6666. Vintage necklace, Lauder’s own
Lauder's personal collection
Lauder's personal collection
Lauder's personal collection
“If America had a monarchy,” The Times of London declared not long ago, “Aerin Lauder would be a princess.... Other than the Rockefellers and the Kennedys, it is hard to think of an American dynasty that is more glamorous, more connected, and more, well, royal.”
I realize this was meant as a high compliment, but the implication is that Aerin Lauder is grand. And Aerin isn’t grand. Formidable, yes, but not grand. She has too much of the Earth Mother in her (as did Estée Lauder, her father’s mother). Aerin’s style—that finely tuned filter through which she perceives all things big and small—is way more luxurious simplicity than it is Louis XIV.
Success makes people more of who they are, and with her successes, first the inherited sort and then the achievements resulting from Aerin’s own efforts—as the style and image director of the family business and most recently as captain of her independent and ever-expanding product collection, AERIN, showcased this summer at 83 Main Street in Southampton—she has more than distinguished herself. Add a deep gratitude for her most personal blessings—her husband, Eric Zinterhofer, and their two sons—and you have a woman whose lifework now is sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience she has enjoyed over the years and continues to discover daily.
It’s a wealth rich in appreciating gracious living, the lovely stuff of domestic dreams—fashion, accessories, furniture, beauty, and more, inspired by her world travels and the art appreciation that is in her family’s DNA, including her flower-filled Greek Revival–style house in Wainscott.
The AERIN store in Southampton is really exciting. How did you decide on the 83 Main Street location?
Aerin Lauder: It’s an amazing location. I actually found it with my sister Thanksgiving weekend; we were walking around Southampton, and there was this wonderful little jewel box space that said for rent, and my sister said, “That looks perfect.” I’ve always loved Southampton. I remember ever since I was a little girl, always going there to the fudge shop, and I love all the bookstores. There’s such a wonderful charm to it.
Was it in the plan, or did you just see the space and say, “Let’s go do it”?
AL: We always talked about doing a concept store that could show the whole world of beauty, accessories, and home elements. I worked on [the interiors] with Jacques Grange, so it’ll have a wonderful consistency to my homes and the office. It has a beautiful summer, bohemian luxurious feel to it.
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When did you begin AERIN? And where are you today?
AL: I began last August when we launched beauty, so it’s a wonderful one year anniversary to be coming out with all these other categories. The first thing we did after beauty was home objects for Christmas. And then in the spring we came out with shoes, sunglasses with Oliver Peoples, and jewelry with Erickson Beamon, which is only on our website and in [the Southampton] store.
It must be fascinating to collaborate with different people.
AL: It is, and that’s something I’ve learned from my experience at Estée Lauder: the idea of partnering with exceptional partners. We’re launching furniture with EJ Victor and lighting with Visual Comfort in the fall; the fabric collection with Lee Jofa has been available since June.
You have a book coming out this fall. Can you tell us about it?
AL: Beauty at Home (Random House) is shot by Simon Upton; he really captures my sensibility and my style. It’s really a book about style, entertaining, and living.
How does the Hamptons influence your work?
AL: There’s nothing I love more than going for a walk on the beach and seeing the color of the sky, the sea, and the sand—there’s something beautiful about the colors and the light. As the season changes, there’s the fall-colored leaves and pumpkins, and then it gets grayer in the winter. That’s very inspiring. It’s the way you live out here: It’s effortless, it’s easy, it’s casual.
You’ve been coming to the Hamptons since childhood. Do you recall your first trip here?
AL: I don’t really remember the first trip, but I remember as a very, very little girl going to the beach and playing on the grass and on the swing set. There used to be a place for pony rides in East Hampton right on Montauk Highway. We used to go every weekend all year long.
Did your parents have a house, or was it always your grandmother’s house?
AL: My parents had a house—the first place they rented was in Mecox; then they bought something in Wainscott. By coincidence there was a house nearby that was a beautiful white-pillared house that was very much Estée’s aesthetic. She bought that I think in the ’70s—it’s the house we’re currently in. After living in it a bit—just the way Estée left it—we needed to modify, but we really didn’t change it that much.
What do you think she would think about the house as it is now?
AL: The kitchen and the family room—she would love that. We entertain in the kitchen and she really didn’t, so I think she’d be pleasantly surprised. She would love it because of the blue and the white, and it has a wonderful feel to it—fresh country flowers, a mantle on the wall, but it’s very different from the kitchen she had.
When you have visitors, is there anything special you do for them in the guest rooms?
AL: I always have fresh flowers, and I put Estée Lauder sunblock, Crème de la Mer cream, and AERIN beauty products in the room. There’s something very inviting about that. And I put books in there—new books or ones from the library that I think they would be interested in.
You’ve been very careful to be respectful of your background and the Lauder brand, but also you’ve moved away from it.
AL: I’m still very involved with Estée Lauder as a brand. It’s very close to my heart—Estée was my grandmother, and I loved her more than anything. I was creative director for many years, and that’s one of the reasons I created [AERIN]: I saw that there was an opportunity in the marketplace for a feminine, modern lifestyle brand.
How are you keeping a private life?
AL: I don’t Instagram every personal thing. I ’m strategic about how I do things. Your private life should always be your private life, and your public life and your business life can be separate.
When you entertain, what do you prefer: seated or buffet?
AL: I actually prefer buffet in the summertime. I love entertaining outside and having people feel comfortable to help themselves. We have long picnic tables that we use to entertain people of all ages. There’s something wonderful about having a table that’s half-children, half-grownups, having a delicious paella dinner with sangria.
You have a lot of family here in the Hamptons—your sisters, your parents, right?
AL: Yes, it is true, and I love it. That’s how I think about the Hamptons, as cozy lobster dinners with just the family. Another thing I love about the Hamptons is that history repeats itself. What I used to do as a child I see my children out doing—biking to tennis. It just makes you smile because it makes you realize how important history is and the past and maintaining certain traditions.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF AERIN (LAUDER); VICTORIA WILL (STORE)
July 18, 2017