Lily Aldridge has spent plenty of time around fragrance, but it goes much deeper than simply being the face of a few perfumes. The mom and philanthropist always wanted to join the world of beauty, and she is doing just that with the launch of her very own fragrance line, Lily Aldridge Parfums. She teamed up with IMG and perfume company Inter Parfums to create a collection inspired by her love of family, travel, fashion and beauty. Each of the four fragrances symbolizes a special to place to her. The line launched with Haven, with the rest to follow over the next months. Haven is elegant yet down-to-earth, a gently romantic, soft floral with top notes of lychee and mandarin; a heart of rose Absolute, peony and freesia; and a base of musk, amber and cedarwood. Aldridge tells us all about her line, favorite fragrance memories, and why every element of the packaging was sustainable, down to the wood cap on the perfume bottle that was sourced from a sustainable forest—for every tree used, five more are planted.
Why did you decide to launch your own perfume line? The beauty world is something I always wanted to be a part of and I’ve been talking about it for years with my agents. They built a relationship with Inter Parfums and asked if I wanted to go in it with them and create my own brand. I jumped on the opportunity and we created Lily Aldridge Parfums.
What did you want your fragrance line to evoke? It was all about my love of travel, how different places can remind you of different smells and how that can evoke emotion. The first one, Haven, is based on my home in Nashville, which is all about florals. The next one is cozier—a different part of the world. [For Haven], florals are a huge part of my gardens and my home. I have flowers in my home all the time. The kind of fragrance I’m generally drawn to is florals, so for me the first one had to be a floral, especially rose. My first scent memory is spraying those little pink rose water bottles you can get at Whole Foods. That was my perfume as a kid because my mom obviously didn’t want me spraying her expensive perfumes all over the house. Rose is very special to me and something that I’m always drawn to in fragrance.
How did you choose a perfumer to work with? Inter Parfums is an incredible perfume house and they’ve made many perfumes that I love and have worn over the years. They have incredible noses that work there. For each of the four fragrances, I sat down with the noses and told them what I wanted—how I wanted to make people feel and make myself feel. It’s amazing when you describe fragrance to a nose, you use a lot of adjectives. I want it to be fresh, bright, I want it to be cozy, and they know exactly what you mean and they’d do their interpretation of that and bring it back to me. Then I would pick my favorite and we would work on it together to create exactly what I wanted. It was a really amazing process; I love it so much.
How long did it take to make the perfumes? It was a little over year and a few months from the first one. Haven was the easiest to create, because I knew exactly what I wanted. The next three were harder because I wanted to make sure they were all really, really different and all made sense. I went back and forth many times. The third one I actually scrapped the one that was about to go. It was past deadline and I fought for it. I said this doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t make sense in the story. And everybody loved the scent and they were like, you’re making a mistake. And I was like, you know what, it’s my mistake and this is my company and I’m not in love with it, so we have got to change it. We nailed it. The third scent now is incredible and it makes so much sense with my story that I want to bring to people. I was really proud of that one because I fought so hard for it.
Why was it important for the packaging to be sustainable? That was one of the first things I wanted to do. We started the packaging two years ago, and that happened even before the fragrances. It wasn’t fashionable yet to be sustainable—that happened quickly in the last year or so in the beauty world, where people are really shouting about it, in a good way. The beauty world does need to become more sustainable and all industries need to become more sustainable. I’m an avid consumer. I love beauty products and I love shopping online and all of that. Seeing all the waste that I was creating as a shopper was upsetting to me. I was embarrassed and also frustrated by it. It’s so unnecessary; why are people doing this? I don’t need my bottle to be wrapped in plastic in a bottle in a box. I remember one time what really set me off is I ordered some eye mask patches, those teeny little things you put on your eyes, and it came in this huge box wrapped in plastic. I opened the box and each individual eye patch was stuck onto a piece of cardboard. I was like, this is crazy; I don’t even know what to do with all this. Long story short, I wanted to create the box to be what you get the bottle in, and they were like, it’s not going to be beautiful, it’s all about the Instagram and the beauty of what you get and I said I think people will appreciate that it came in one box. I think that’s beautiful enough and the story behind that, so we made sure the inside of the box was really beautiful and special. That’s why we have the beautiful words, “I’m right where I belong.” It’s like take a moment for yourself and realize that you’re in the present and the little piece of paper with wildflowers is this special little treat, like my thank you. Thank you for having this box that’s not as gorgeous on the outside but on the inside you get all of these beautiful little treats.
Why did you include a bio-degradable paper seeded gift card with each perfume? Each fragrance will have its own special little treasure inside. All the boxes will be the same because for sustainability it’s better to have just one box. I wanted there to be something unique in each of the different fragrances, so the first one is the wildflower paper that you can wet and plant in your garden. You’ll get these beautiful little wildflowers and it’s just a fun, interactive thing you can do. I love stuff like that, I love little treats or unexpected things that are thoughtful.
Why will each scent have a different charity partner? St. Jude is the first charity that is a part of Haven. I work with St. Jude a lot; they’re a charity that I think are incredible and are saving so many children’s lives. I’ve gotten the privilege to tour the hospitals and they do so much for the families of the patients that are there. Nobody has a bill, it’s just a wonderfully hopeful place. They also do amazing research for cancers. Some cancers aren’t popular so big companies won’t fund to research them and find a cure and St. Jude’s will find the cures for them and then they also share all their research with everybody, so anybody from another hospital or place in the world can reach out to them and they share their information, which I didn’t realize a lot of places don’t and it’s shocking.
As a model, you’ve starred in fragrance campaigns before. What did that teach you about fragrance and building a campaign around it? I have gotten to work with so many amazing brands. The first time I learned about nose was on my Wonderlust campaign with Michael Kors. I got to meet the nose and my favorite process of the whole experience was talking to this woman in Greece and learning about the different notes and how she described the top note and the bottom note. That was one of the first moments where I thought, wow, this is so much deeper than I realize. You don’t realize how much work goes into a fragrance and all the decisions that are made. And then when I worked with Jason [Wu], he was so passionate about it. He taught me all about where jasmine was from, and he got this beautiful architect to create the bottle and the color of the liquid inside and all of these things really intrigued me and we talked about the passion behind it. It’s obviously a gorgeous scent and all of them are on my vanity right now and mine’s next to them. I know some women are very particular and have one fragrance and I think that’s also a beautiful story for a fragrance, but I’ve always loved playing with fragrance and having variety. There are certain fragrances that I wear in the winter and certain that I wear when I’m going to a black tie event and some that I wear day to day when at home with my kids and going to school and that kind of thing. To me, fragrance is all about playing and evoking different moods. It’s part of my beauty and fashion routine.
What’s your earliest scent memory? I have so many. A big one is being in my grandma’s garden as a girl. She had lavender bushes everywhere and me and my sister made little sachets of lavender in a pouch and kept it in our clothes drawers. I still have the one from my grandma’s garden from 20 years ago and I treasure it. Another scent memory for me is Christmas. The smell of cookies and pine is something still I look forward to so much. When I get my Christmas tree I can smell it and the emotion it makes me feel. That scent is super powerful.