For nearly three years, Aerin Lauder left a scent in her wake that people she knew couldn't get enough of. She smelled of gardenias and tuberose flowers, wearing a fragrance created exclusively for her.
Now, others can get their hands on the Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia perfume, which costs $65 to $300.
Yesterday, Lauder, granddaughter of Estee Lauder - the founder of the cosmetics company that bears her name, greeted customers from behind the Estee Lauder counter at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase, promoting the fragrance she created as a tribute to her late grandmother.
The perfume, driven by the two Lauder women's love for the white flowers, was designed to meld the traditional tastes of her grandmother and the more modern take on classic that has come to characterize her own style, Aerin Lauder says.
"There are many elements of the fragrance that are very much inspired by her. I mean, her love of tuberose and gardenias - she's always loved those flowers," she says.
After wearing the fragrance for three years and passing it around to her delighted friends, Lauder decided to take it public at the prodding of a marketing group brainstorming the company's next perfume line.
"They said, well, we need a juice, and somebody said, `What do you wear all the time? It smells so good!' And then I just kind of giggled," she says. "It kind of all worked perfectly together. It felt like it was meant to be."
While some before her - such as Audrey Hepburn, who famously forbade Givenchy to market the perfume created specifically for her - have resisted giving up their personal scent to the masses, Lauder says she doesn't think it will cheapen the fragrance for her.
"I've had so many people come up to me and say, `I love that - what are you wearing?'" she says. "If it makes people happy, then I'm all for it."
Lauder kept her grandmother in mind throughout the development process, she says, noting that the hammered gold caps of the perfume bottles were fashioned after a bracelet her grandmother had given her.
In fact, Lauder, 37, is the member of the Lauder family most commonly compared to her grandmother, both in manner and social panache. Often seen in the pages of Vogue and at the parties of New York's social elite, Lauder is credited with extending the appeal of her family's staid and traditional company to a younger, hipper set.
"My responsibility, I think, is to bring in that next generation," she says of her roles as both the most visible young Lauder and the company's senior vice president and creative director. "I think it is my responsibility to try to bridge the gap - bridge the gap in a way that's very realistic. I mean, we're not going to go after an 18-year-old customer."
That responsibility, Lauder notes, includes her public image, something the company has capitalized on in marketing the new perfume. The advertisement - a simple black-and-white photograph of her - marks the first time a member of the Lauder family has been shown in one of the company's campaigns.
And it promotes the fragrance as representing "Aerin Lauder's own extraordinary sense of style: elegant, simple, timeless, feminine."
"We kind of wanted to launch a high-end fragrance," Lauder says. "People are constantly on the quest for something luxurious."
University of Pennsylvania, BA, 1991
Granddaughter of Estee Lauder; daughter of Ronald S. Lauder and Jo-Carole Knopf
She and husband Eric Zinterhofer have two children
Senior vice president and creative director of Estee Lauder