February 6, 2023


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Beauty: In time filled with uncertainty, fragrance a source of comfort

Aerin Lauder on the power of fragrance amid the pandemic

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The fragrance industry is said to be is blooming.

One of the top beauty categories to experience growth following a decline in overall industry interest due to the global pandemic, according to a recent report by the NPD Group, consumer spending on fragrance is actually trending upward since 2019.

And the home fragrance category — diffusers, scented candles and more — has grown more than 10 per cent.

The upward trend in fragrance varieties doesn’t come as a surprise to longtime industry veteran Aerin Lauder.

“Fragrance is very intimate,” Lauder said during a recent interview held via Zoom. “And, during a time when things are so uncertain, people are gravitating toward home and fragrance and candles.”

Memorable scents, the founder and creative director of Aerin perfumes explains, make people feel like they are “normal” — even during a time when the world seems anything but.

“It makes you feel like your day is not completely uncomfortably different,” Lauder says. “You get up, you wash your face, you put your skincare on and then your fragrance.


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“I think that fragrance is very comforting.”

That perspective on perfume can be tied firmly back to Lauder’s grandmother, Estée Lauder.

“My grandmother always talked about the experience of fragrance, and how discovering fragrance allows you to escape and dream,” Lauder says. “And I think now, more than ever, people are dreaming and talking about their bucket lists, so fragrance kind of participates in that.”

For Lauder, her personal pandemic perfume lineup has vacillated between reading like a list of wanderlust destinations — or a warm olfactory hug.

“It’s funny, in the past year I’ve worn a lot of Rose de Grasse and I’ve worn a lot of Amber Musk, which I think is very cosy and inviting. It’s a coconut and amber, so it’s very delicious,” Lauder says. “I’ve been using a lot of scented candles.

“And then, another fragrance that I’ve loved is the Limone di Sicilia, which is this beautiful lemon fragrance inspired by Sicily. I think those are the three that I’ve been gravitating towards in the past year.”

For her fragrance collection, Lauder is often inspired by the memories of exotic locations including Madagascar and the south of France.

“I think, with fragrance, you’re always going to be inspired,” Lauder says. “I love watching the world around me.”

But, in the past year, the creative director has looked to social media, singling out Instagram specifically, as a “powerful” source of inspiration during a time when holidays abroad remain off the books.


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Or, perhaps more fittingly for the fragrance founder, when the world’s going-ons keep her awake at night.

“In the middle of the night when you can’t sleep, you can go on your phone and see what’s going on in Italy and Australia,” Lauder says. “It makes everyone feel much closer.”

Aerin Fleur de Peony.
Aerin Fleur de Peony. Handout

For the new scent Fleur de Peony, Lauder looked a little closer to home for inspiration, searching out the familiar, not just for herself, but for others, too.

“I love peonies. And I love the different coloured peonies. The deep coral ones, the hot pink, the white, the red. I think peonies and roses are very interesting, and at the same time, very appealing,” Lauder says. “At a time when people are quite uncertain, and everyone is in lockdown and things are not as comfortable as they can be and as safe as they can be, the idea of something familiar is very appealing.

“I think it’s actually the perfect time for us to come out with a peony fragrance.”

The Fleur de Peony scent is billed as a “fresh fruity floral” fragrance that features notes of citrus, lychee, jasmine and peony, along with Sri Lankan Sandalwood, golden amber and musk. Available online now, it launches in stores in July.

“We wanted to make this one unique,” Lauder says of the new scent. “It has this wonderful sense of warm, but sweet at the same time. And the lychee makes it very unexpected.”

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