By Phebe Wahl By Phebe Wahl | October 6, 2022 | People People Feature Features Feature Featured
As she celebrates a decade of building her beautiful brand, Hamptonite Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer soaks in the splendor of the season.
"I actually love the Hamptons more in the fall than any time of year,” admits Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer. As the granddaughter of Estée Lauder, Zinterhofer has been coming to the Hamptons since she was 2 years old. “There’s a really funny, early, early photograph of me with a gingham shirt and jeans eating a lollipop,” she shares. “It was from the Penny Candy Store, probably bigger than me and I was covered in lollipop. It’s fun for me to re-create those memories with my children. You still go to the Candy Kitchen for cookies-and-cream milkshake or Lobster Roll for a lobster roll. And I think there’s something really wonderful about the Hamptons—that tradition maintains itself.”
A master curator across any category, it seems, Zinterhofer easily rolls off an expert curation of the best of the East End revealing her longtime local roots. “Obviously Round Swamp and Loaves & Fishes are my two favorite go-tos. I’ve been going to Loaves & Fishes as long as I can remember, and we actually had our rehearsal dinner at the Bridgehampton Inn,” she shares. “Carissa’s Bakery is amazing for baked goods. I love their monkey bread. Then there was a woman, Gail Watson, who did the most beautiful birthday cakes.” Pizza? Moby’s or Sam’s Restaurant in East Hampton. Greek? Elaia Estiatorio in Bridgehampton. Local gems? Bookhampton and the 5 and 10 cent in Sag Harbor. “I love how they celebrate the different seasons. And I think there’s something so it’s really so old school that you always find something you want there.” The very essence of the beautiful spirit of Americana, indeed.
As the ultimate arbiter and lifestyle maven, Zinterhofer has built her beautiful brand capturing the essence of these special moments. The secret of her success is not merely a matter of impeccable taste and business savvy (something that clearly runs in the family) but an unparalleled eye for the minute and magical details. When asked what it is she loves most about the season, she is instantly able to wax poetic with visual and full sensory detail.
“I love the Hamptons all year round—and I love how the seasons change,” she explains. “I love in the fall when the leaves change. I love how the colors of flowers change and all the hydrangeas go from blue to a deep red-purple. I love the change in produce at the farm stands from strawberries to pumpkins. I love going for long walks on the beach all bundled up. I love how the light changes. There’s something really magical with all the colors—and you realize why so many artists live out there. It’s so inspiring—sunsets and sunrises—and just the colors on a rainy day.”
Zinterhofer is a master of not just observing these seasonal shifts but translating them into a chic and curated lifestyle. “One of the elements of our brand is evolving your home depending on the season—both in fragrance as well as home items,” she says. “For example, in the wintertime I might use a spicier candle for the home. Megève’s Rose or Uzes Tuberose are two of my favorite candles for the fall and winter—as opposed to the summer, when I have our L’Ansecoy Orange Blossom or Madaket Geranium candles burning constantly.” Zinterhofer is mindful of the shifts in season in not just scenting but color palettes as well. “It’s also a good time to bring in other elements such as deep green hues with beautiful colored throws, which have a darker hue to them. And in the summer you might use a white or pale throw.” Some things that never change? Zinterhofer’s love of fresh blooms and beautiful vessels. “I still use straw all year round but maybe change it up by using a different-color flower in it. In the summertime. I love to go to the different farm markets and work with the Bridgehampton Florist arranging flowers for the home and then in the fall when things change. It’s fun to bring in different colors—lots of deep reds and berries.”
Her expert eye has resulted in incredible success. This year Zinterhofer celebrates her 10th anniversary of her eponymous brand, AERIN (aerin.com). “I’m very excited and proud of what we’ve accomplished in 10 years—and I have an incredible team,” she says. “Many of the people who’ve been with me from the beginning are still with me today. There’s nothing I love more, truthfully, than going into some of our stores—especially the two in the Hamptons—and having customers come up to me, come in for a fragrance they love or embrace a new candle. And I think there’s something very rewarding and fulfilling on what we’ve created in 10 years.”
Fulfilling indeed as the impressive offering now spans three main categories of beauty, home and accessories—and includes an expanding empire of concept stores as well. “One of the elements that I love about the brand are these concept stores,” she says. “My first pop-up store was in Southampton and it never closed. People have responded so well to it, and it was such a wonderful thing for the brand to showcase the whole brand— kind of a wonderful edit.” Today, the AERIN brand has four stores in Palm Beach, Miami, East Hampton and Southampton. “I would love to launch more of these stores,” Zinterhofer says, hinting there are likely more to come on the horizon. “I think there’s something really interesting and it is a wonderful place for us to showcase the whole brand. A lot of times when you go to department stores, you might see our beauty on one floor and home on another. What’s nice is that you can walk into our world and see these different areas and see how they all work together.”
That ability to build a brand that has such a strong and cohesive narrative seems to also be a family strength. “Beauty is always a very important part of my brand and my life and my heritage,” she says. “When I think about accomplishments I’m most proud of... a lot of them are the beauty launches that we’ve done. For example, Wild Geranium, which was shot in a cosmo field right on my parents’ property. It still continues to be one of my most favorite campaigns and fragrances that were shot at the end of the day. It’s beautiful. The sensibility was with me with two young models, and it really captured that moment I think of the Hamptons. I was very struck by these wonderful fields of cosmos. And the magic of that Cedar Violet, which was another fragrance campaign that was shot in a barn on my parents’ property—which I think really epitomizes American country, which I love. And I also love Rose de Grasse, which continues to be one of our best sellers. To me, it is a wonderful, wonderful fragrance. And it’s globally a best seller. We shot that as well in Long Island.”
For her latest launch, Joyful Bloom, Zinterhofer reimagined her iconic Rose de Grasse in celebration of the brand’s big anniversary. “It’s a beautiful, modern rose,” she says. “It’s almost a rose in full bloom... And it’s also very optimistic. It’s fresh. It’s upbeat. It’s pretty. And then there’s this wonderful element of rose, which obviously makes it kind of very feminine and very pretty,” she says of the scent, which blends green notes with a combination of sandalwood, rose centifolia and Indian rose bourboniana.
The new scent is part of a flurry of launches to fete the 10th anniversary of AERIN. “For the 10th anniversary, we wanted to make sure that we partnered with wonderful artists or personalities that we thought really represented the brand,” Zinterhofer says. The list includes a capsule collection of vases with celebrated potter Frances Palmer and three limited-edition travel cases by British brand Tanner Krolle. “So there’s three possibilities for the woman on the go,” she says of the stunning pieces crafted in collaboration with Tanner Krolle Creative Director Tabitha Simmons.
These collaborations are another ingredient in Zinterhofer’s secret sauce. She has a tremendous talent for knowing the most chic creatives. “A lot of these wonderful partnerships I found through Instagram, and I’m always inspired by other designers’ personalities,” she shares. “I find a lot of great talent and a lot of wonderful things on Instagram... A lot of times people will reach out to me that a friend of a friend of theirs has a beautiful line of earrings or embroidered napkins. It’s really through word-of-mouth. There is this wonderful quote: ‘telephone, telegraph and tell-a-woman.’ And I think that concept is more relevant than ever before. It’s the power of communication and the idea of just telling other people about wonderful finds. That’s what I love doing on both our website and stores.”
Styling: Sean Spellman
Hair: Brian Buenaventura
Makeup: Benjamin Puckey
Photography by: Photographed by Mason Rudnick