Beauty on the Rocks by Michaela Cordes | 24th November, 2017 | Personalities
She inherited a sense for beauty from her legendary grandmother Estée Lauder. Turning her passion into a business came naturally. A visit with the AERIN founder Aerin Lauder at her holiday home in Aspen, Colorado.
How much time do you spend in Aspen Where did your passion for decorating, hosting dinners and setting a every year? I’ve been coming to As- pen since the late 1980’s and I love that it really hasn’t changed. It’s still a very family-oriented place at all seasons. My family visits a few times during the win- ter and sometimes during the summer.
„I love the simple, modern, mountain sensibility in Aspen.”
How did you find the place? When we bought the house in 2010 it had just been built by a local architect and we fell in love with the flow of space, especially the open-plan ground floor, which is all centered around the incredible view. When I walked into the house and saw the view, I knew it was perfect. I worked with my good friend Daniel Romualdez to update the interiors and I love the simplicity of what we designed. There’s always been a side of me that loves that simple, modern, mountain sensibility.
What do you like the most about Aspen? What makes it unique for you personally? There’s a wonderful balance of outdoors and style. There is great energy, great restaurants and shops. It has everything you could possibly want, from the most extreme skiing and the most luxuri- ous stores to great restaurants and everything in between. It’s the perfect destination for every- one and beautiful all year round.
What are your favorite activities? One our favorite things to do as a family is ski. We also cherish time at home together and I do love the shopping. My favorite store is Gorsuch. It is classic and I love to see the AERIN brand beautifully represented there. For more tradi- tional style, I also love Kemo Sabe for the western style cowboy hats, custom branded belts and cowboy boots that have embroidered flowers on them.
Do you spend Christmas there? What is your family tradition? Aspen is wonderful because it’s beautiful year round but my favorite time to visit is around the holidays when it feels festive and cozy. If we are in there for the holidays, the day starts with hot chocolate while we listen to carols and open our gifts, then we go skiing. Lunch is usually at Cloud 9, our favorite mountain restaurant, maybe raclette, followed by apple strudel. In the afternoon it is more skiing and perhaps din- ner in town. Christmas in Aspen is very special.
„I went to Aspen for the first time when I was
in my teens. We found our dream home later.”
What inspired you to create your AERIN brand? Beauty is my herit- age but home design and accessories are my passions. When I set out to develop the AERIN brand I saw an opportunity in the market for a new lifestyle brand based on feminine, effortless style. Woman today are busier than ever, they are inspired by multiple areas, from maga- zines to Instagram to travels. AERIN designs are influenced by many different cultures and mixing many different elements of my life. I grew up in New York, lived in Vienna for a few years as a teenager and spent much time traveling throughout Europe. I like the juxtaposition of different periods and design styles, which is incorporated in both my personal home and my collections. My style is classic yet timeless and I try to reflect that in the AERIN brand.
How would you describe your brand to someone who has not heard of it? AERIN is not about a specific age range or demographic – it’s more about a lifestyle. We design for the modern woman who appreciates an effortless approach to style. The brand speaks to busy women who, like me, are inspired by fashion, art, design and travel.
Where did your passion for decorating, hosting dinners and setting a tasteful standard come from? My grandmother, Estée, liked to make everything around her beautiful. She saw beauty as an extension of herself, her wardrobe, her home and her family. She always said “everything can be beautiful if you just take the time” and it’s some- thing that has influenced my approach to design.
Can you name three items from your new collection that add some- thing to any home? I have also always found candles to be very uplift- ing – they set the mood when entertaining and they can easily trans- form the feeling of a space. When pairing a candle scent with a room, it’s important to decide what you are trying to convey. The scents that we design for AERIN candles are travel-inspired and transport me to some of my most cherished places around the world. I also love pic- tures in beautiful frames and have them throughout my home be- cause I believe that personal photos bring life to any space. I also love AERIN shagreen. Its been a core component of AERIN decorative ac- cessories from some of our earliest collections – coasters, jewelry box- es, trays, elegant board games. Shagreen with brass accents elevates these beautifully simple designs.
What values did your grandmother teach you? She was a true pioneer and an incredibly savvy business- woman – she taught us the importance of quality, at- tention to detail, and above all, the value of customer relationships. Estée used to say that it is her name on the product, therefore it should be the best. Today, I put my name on the product because of the sense for perfection and quality that she instilled in me.
What’s special about Aspen as a ski destination? I love that you can ski in the warmth.
Who cooks and makes breakfast? I wake up early wherever I am and in Colorado I’m generally up at six. The first thing I do is make drip coffee and set the table. I drink my coffee while checking emails, and then I’ll drive to Paradise Bakery to buy muffins and croissants to have breakfast at home with my family.
Who introduced you to Aspen? I came to visit my aunt and uncle when I was in my early teens and ab- solutely fell in love with it. My uncle and cousin still have houses in town.
When you are in Aspen, do you go out a lot or do you prefer to stay home? Do you entertain? Aspen is really a place where I spend quality time with my family; we are typically at home for a casual dinner, skiing or meeting friends at one of my favorite restaurants.
Where in Aspen do you live? I chose the house because of the view – it was perfect. (Editor’s note: For privacy reasons Aerin would prefer not to answer details on the house’s location.)
Can you share any decorating and/or entertaining tricks that always work? When designing a room I always start with lighting. Lighting brings warmth and life into a room and can animate and transform even the smallest space, conveying different moods. In a bedroom, I prefer table lamps for a nice glow as opposed to harsh overhead lighting. It creates a more tranquil ambiance for lounging and resting.
What was one of the greatest houses you ever saw? I love any home that can actually be lived in, where there’s a balance of memories and décor.
Who are the greatest entertainers you know? My grandmother, Estée, taught me that the secret to entertaining is to make guests com- fortable. She used to serve gourmet potato chips in beautiful bowls, which I still do today and guests love it.