The New York heiress and businesswoman discusses the art of entertaining — illustrated with her choice of lots from the private collection of Jayne Wrightsman
‘She’s an incredible role model,’ says Aerin Lauder of the New York collector and philanthropist Jayne Wrightsman. ‘Her wonderful sense of style and her passion for the arts have always been an inspiration to me.’
The granddaughter of the visionary cosmetics entrepreneur Estée Lauder, Aerin counts herself lucky to have grown up surrounded by beautiful things. ‘It inspires you and creates a sense of whimsy and surprise in your everyday life,’ she says.
Her lifestyle philosophy serves as the focal point for her luxury brand Aerin, which develops curated collections in the worlds of beauty, fashion accessories and home decor. Each is inspired by Lauder’s signature style, which The New Yorker has described as ‘feminine, quite traditional but with a slight modern twist’.
‘I take it as a wonderful compliment that there’s any parallel between me and Mrs. Wrightsman,’ says Lauder during our film shoot. ‘She leaves behind a wonderful legacy.’
Ahead of the sale of selected pieces from the The Private Collection of Jayne Wrightsman, Lauder has recreated some of Wrightsman’s table settings in her beautiful Hamptons home, styling them with selected personal items that once belonged to her grandmother.
‘This is a very special place for me because it used to belong to my grandparents,’ she says of the Greek Revival home in East Hampton, where she has been living since March. ‘They bought it in the 1970s and worked with Mark Hampton to decorate it. I’ve kept many rooms as they were.’
For Lauder, selecting items from Wrightsman’s collection to style with her own was as challenging as it was exciting. ‘It was difficult to pick out my 10 favourites,’ she admits. ‘Though I was particularly drawn to the colourful pink pieces — namely the pink glasses, the flowered pink teacups and the beautiful, beautiful plates.’
Among the treasures coming to auction is an 18th-century Sèvres dessert service decorated with pink rose buds (above), probably made for Simon, 1st Earl Harcourt, the British Ambassador to France from 1768 to 1772. ‘It’s exquisite,’ she says of the delicate floral design. ‘When I heard of the backstory, I fell in love with it even more.’
Wrightsman’s love of flowers is also manifest in the group of 19 Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain flowers, her trompe l’oeil ceramic flower-filled pot by Clare Potter — an artist Lauder also collects — and her hand-painted floral teacups, which Lauder has styled for the occasion with her grandmother’s miniature silver teaspoons.
‘I've learned a lot from my mother and my grandmother about entertaining,’ she says. ‘They taught me the importance of attention to detail, flowers — and, of course, when setting a table to make sure that everything is perfect.’
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Lauder also admires a Venetian glass gilt-banded stemware service and a collection of early 19th-century Russian cups, once used for serving ice cream.
‘There’s something very important about embracing the past and making those pieces work in the present,’ she says. ‘Enjoy your beautiful items. Don’t just save them for special occasions.’