My favorite day of the year is always the Mint Museum Auxiliary’s Room to Bloom Symposium. The list of speakers that have graced Charlotte is quite impressive….Bunny Williams, Mario Buatta, Miles Redd, Celerie Kemble, Patrick Frey and Mary McDonald just to name a few. This year, Aerin Lauder was the guest of honor and the conversation was moderated by Pamela Fiori, who had been the keynote speaker at the Auxiliary’s Fall EnrichMINT Forum.
Pamela introduced Aerin as “a creative force of intellect and influence.” Symposium guests felt as if they were eavesdropping on a wonderful conversation between dear friends covering topics from growing up in the infamous Lauder family and beauty tips to daily inspiration, philanthropy, and being a working mother.
The overarching theme of the conversation was “To thine own self be true.” Every detail of Aerin’s company and her brand reflects her elegant, yet sleek taste. She explained that she inherited much of her taste from her grandmother Estee. Estee would always wear a sleek silhouette and one great accessory, advised to care for the only face you have, and taught the importance of editing, balance and authenticity.
As a child, a dollhouse was Aerin’s favorite toy. Home is where her passion lies and she strives to create rooms with a twist on tradition. She has worked with some of the world’s most talented designers such as Daniel Romualdez and Jacques Grange.
Aerin draws inspiration from her friends, family, nature, travel and the arts. A walk in her garden can evoke the idea for a new scent. A trip to the Met can inspire the color palette for a new collection. Among her favorite artists are Gustav Klimdt, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, and Yves Klein.
Aerin’s brand is tightly edited and curated. Everything she creates is designed to make life easier and more beautiful. For example, there is a weekday and weekend palette for the face and only a few shades of lip color. This is intended to provide a sense of relief without having to worry about too many choices. Each item, however, is perfectly designed and packaged becoming jewelry for the home. Floral patterns are carefully selected to evoke the spirit of what lies within each box. The sleek modern gold packaging for all of the makeup is another glamorous touch.
Aerin has created a few havens where her brand lives together cohesively. Her website shows how all of the objects coexist. Once a month, she launches a new theme that becomes part of the experience. Her new shop in Southhampton also shows the simple elegance of her lifestyle.
Aerin’s office from which she oversees her empire possesses the same sophisticated air. In addition to her beauty, fragrance, accessory, furniture, and lighting lines, she is also passionate about the First Book project which provides books to children in need. To date, First Book has distributed more than 125 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. To commemorate her visit to Charlotte, Room to Bloom sponsor Wells Fargo made a donation to First Book in her honor.
The biggest beauty myth is that everyone looks better without makeup. That’s not true. Makeup is important.
My fashion philosophy is quite traditional and understated. I never wear too much jewelry. I never wear a ton of pattern. Sometimes I’ll go big but it never feels right. At one CFDA Awards, I wore a fantastic short, neon dress and unexpected shoes. It looked great, but I just didn’t feel like me.
My New Year’s resolution is to not drink as much Diet Coke. It’s so bad for you and I’ve been drinking it since college.
Aging is beautiful. I love laugh lines. It means you’ve had a good life. The most beautiful women—Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Hutton, Ali MacGraw—all embraced the aging process. Do I believe in plastic surgery? Yes, if something is wrong and you can modify it. For certain people, it’s right.
My favorite scent is anything floral. Tuberose and gardenia are my favorite flowers.
I’m really bad about breakfast. I have a coffee in the morning and the remnants of my children’s breakfast. At lunch, I love salad or sushi but I’m not a fish person. I’ve never craved grilled salmon. I like hamburgers, I like chicken. I’ve never liked pasta.
My holiday party style is simple and feminine—a great pair of pants and a silk top with a piece of statement jewelry or a fun evening bag by Fendi.
I never take off my Cartier Tank watch. I got it about 17 years ago for Christmas and I’ve always loved it. It’s as beautiful as it was when I first got it. It’s timeless, and looks good with everything from a dress to a bathing suit.
The five favorite pieces in my closet are black Repetto ballet slippers, DL 1961 jeans, a Stella McCartney blazer in navy or black, Hermès cashmere scarves and probably a Stella McCartney white silk shirt.
The biggest beauty lesson my grandmother taught me is that you only have one face, so take care of it. She taught me that everything starts with a good skin care routine. She also taught me that while something might be fun to look at in a magazine, it doesn’t mean you have to wear it.
My beauty routine is very effortless. Sometimes I get up and don’t brush my hair. I put on foundation, a little bit of bronzer and a bit of eyeliner. I have a very light hand. I think my grandmother wore more makeup and more color. She also had blonde hair and green eyes, so turquoise eye shadow looked amazing on her.
My definition of paradise is to take a bath at the end of a long day with Jo Malone’s Red Roses Bath Oil. I love the way it looks, I love the way it smells.
I don’t do facials that often, but I do get a mani/pedi once a week. I stay neutral with colors—Essie shades with names you’re embarrassed to say like Starter Wife and Fed Up. I always try a color on my toes but the next day I don’t like it.
I could wear Stella McCartney from head to toe. From the underwear to the clothes, everything she does is perfect. I also love the Row. They define my sensibility: beautiful and luxurious, but simple.
The woman who embodies the Aerin lifestyle is [Vogue contributing editor] Lauren Santo Domingo. She has this modern femininity and many different aspects to her life. She’s a mother but still loves beauty, fashion and trends.
Women should never skimp on skin care and makeup. You really do see a difference with good quality products. Hair care is also really important. The new Ojon Rare Blend hair oil is amazing. I think you can skimp on body lotion with a drugstore brand like Lubriderm.
My favorite gifts to give are books, for children and adults. I recently bought Kelly Klein’s new book “Pools: Reflections.” It will make a great Christmas gift this year. To receive, I love getting jewelry.
There is something great about women embracing their sensibility, and being who they are. I love Jane Birkin with her effortless style and perfectly messy hair. It’s so iconic.
New York hasn’t changed as much as people think. It’s still the city that doesn’t sleep. There is still the energy, passion and diversity. I love Central Park all year round—the lower loop for a fast walk or run, the duck pond for the kids, the Boathouse for lunch. And the Children’s Zoo is magical.
Kindness is impossible to fake. You can tell when someone is being authentic or not.
To read more about Aerin’s beautiful world, buy her book by clicking here.