Sitting in a cozy cafe with Lily Aldridge feels like catching up with a best friend. The 34-year-old mother of two calls herself a “beauty junkie,” and like us, she can spend an entire day organizing her vanity. So, it’s no surprise the former Victoria’s Secret model decided to launch her own brand: a collection of fragrances inspired by the places she loves most.
NewBeauty: What inspired you to create a fragrance brand?
Lily Aldridge: I’ve always loved experimenting with beauty, and I had wanted to start my own brand for years. The fact that it turned out to be fragrance was a bit serendipitous. Fragrance has always meant a lot to me, and I realized that all of my favorite places had powerful scent memories attached to them. I think a lot of people feel this way, whether it’s remembering the fragrance you wore on your wedding day, or what your grandma’s house smells like. I have a scent memory of making little lavender sachets in my grandmother’s garden, and I still have a sachet. It barely smells anymore, but the tiniest trace still reminds me of her. That’s what I wanted to do: create fragrances that evoke that type of memory for you.
NB: So each one represents a special place?
LA: Yes, all four scents—I have two out now and two more coming soon—are inspired by places I love. My first one, Haven, reminds me of my home in Nashville, my safe place, and smells like roses and peonies from my garden. Summit is the second one and based on Blackberry Farm in the Smoky Mountains, which I visit with my family all the time. It’s very gender-neutral with notes of leather and tobacco that remind me of being cozy by the fireplace. The journey will continue with other places—all in the U.S., although I’d love to create scents that capture my travels around the globe.
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NB: How involved were you in the creative process?
LA: Very! There were so many little pieces. I worked with five perfumers—they’re known as “noses”—to create the “juice,” as they call it. And if you don’t know anything about “noses,” they are like wine sommeliers—they are the most interesting people in the world. They are fabulous! When I said I wanted something rosy, they said, “Do you want a freshly picked rose, a rose that’s still on the stem, a rose from India, a rose from America, or a rose that’s been sitting in a bouquet for two days”—and I was like, what?! Each perfumer made their own interpretation, and each scent I chose was from a different person, which is cool. I thought for sure I was going to pick the same perfumer each time, but everyone really surprised me.
NB: I bet you smelled A LOT of coffee beans during all that testing.
LA: You’re actually supposed to smell your arm, not coffee beans! Everybody’s skin has a unique aroma, so that’s how you’re supposed to neutralize between smelling fragrances, not coffee, which is what I thought too. At least that’s what they told me. They could have been setting me up for a blooper: How many times will Lily smell her arm? (Laughs)
NB: What was the toughest challenge along the way?
LA: Probably everything! The whole project took me two years. Let me tell you, it’s a learning process. I had many sleepless nights over just the font for the logo. Understanding natural ingredients and sustainability has been a challenge too, but it’s very important to me.
NB: What role does sustainability play in your brand?
LA: The caps are made of sustainable wood—for every tree that is taken down, we plant five in its place—but the main focus is the packaging. I love buying beauty products, but I was frustrated by how much I was wasting. When I ordered something online, it would come in a box inside another box and wrapped in plastic, and the plastic would be wrapped in plastic. And I’d think, oh my gosh this is crazy! So, my fragrances only come in one box. And sure, the outside of it is probably scuffed and has a shipping label on it, but when you open it, the inside is your moment. I’m really proud of it because it doesn’t create as much waste as some other products. I think the beauty world is moving in that direction. It’s trying to do better one step at a time.
NB: Do you generally lean toward a cleaner lifestyle?
LA: Yes, but not all the time—it’s a balance. When I was pregnant and nursing my son, Winston , I was super-duper clean. When makeup artists would grab a product to use on me, I’d say, “Wait, what is that?” When I was pregnant with my daughter Dixie , there weren’t as many clean options that were actually quality, but now the market is incredible.
NB: Have you always been beauty-obsessed?
LA: Yes! Every time I look at my vanity, it makes me happy. I even have a little skin-care fridge. I had one saved in my Amazon cart for a while, but wasn’t sure I needed it. Then poosh (Kourtney Kardashian’s company) sent one to me, and I thought, do I need a mini fridge? Who do I think I am? But I set it up, and now I keep rose water spray in there and some eye masks and moisturizer. And Dixie loves it—she always steals my eye patches and walks around the house with them on. It’s so sweet.
NB: What does Dixie think of your fragrances?
LA: She actually picked one of them! The last one [launching later this year]. I had my mind set on a particular one, but then Dixie came into my room one night and she smelled so good, I couldn’t stop snuggling her. I asked her to show me which one she was wearing, and then I called everyone and said I was changing the fourth fragrance. Now every time I smell it, I think of her. That’s the power of scent.
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