This is how the founder of Aerin throws a dinner party

Author: Maggie Scardifield
Photography: Williams-Sonoma

Spoiler alert: it involves Daft Punk and potato chips.

Even with winter about to kick-off, Aerin Lauder is all about the sunshine. Lauder is the founder and creative director of lifestyle brand Aerin, and today she's launching a Palm Beach-inspired homewares collection in Australia, designed in collaboration with Williams-Sonoma. The 28-piece range features dinnerware, glassware and other entertaining staples, and is the first home décor collaboration Williams-Sonoma has produced in its 60-year history. To coincide with the launch, GT caught up with Aerin Lauder to find out her secrets for entertaining.

Aerin Lauder's collection is inspired by memories of family holidays in Palm Beach, Florida.

Why do you love to entertain, Aerin?
I love to have guests over for dinner, drinks and conversation. Good friends are an extension of my family.

What do you think defines a great host?
My grandmother [the namesake behind Estée Lauder] taught me that the secret to entertaining is to make guests feel comfortable. She used to serve potato chips in beautiful bowls, which I still do today and guests love. She also loved sending her guests home with a small gift, and would put a compact on everyone's seat. I love to incorporate a little something for my guests into the place setting, such as one of our Aerin candles. I change the scent based on the season.

Tell us about the inspiration for your collaboration with Williams-Sonoma. Why Palm Beach of all places?
The collection is inspired by my own personal memories of travelling to Palm Beach in Florida with my family. The colours and textures mimic those of the sea and beach life - bright blues and white, softer pastels, and familiar seashell shapes that remind me of my childhood. The different tones of blue offer a casual, yet luxurious feel, which is always what I aim for when entertaining, indoor or outdoor.

What are your essentials for effortless and stylish entertaining?
I use a tray to create an instant cocktail party. It quickly becomes a portable bar space that can move with your guests. I usually place flowers, a crystal carafe, glasses and my favorite spirits on the tray, along with footed Deco-style bowls filled with nuts and chips for guests to snack on while they pour themselves a drink. It's elegant and relaxed.

Blue and white patterns and seashell shapes feature strongly across the collection.

What's your go-to winter menu when entertaining at home?
Chicken curry flavoured with cumin and nutmeg. I also like to include beautiful bowls filled with different fun toppings such as chopped cucumber, chopped bananas and coconut.

And what about welcome drinks?
Welcome drinks depend on the season. In summer I like to serve sangria, while in winter I always go for red wine. Regardless of the drink, it's always in a festive glass with a beautiful linen cocktail napkin.

Do you have a favourite piece from the new collection?
I love the confetti glasses. They're a little unexpected, so would be great for someone who loves colour and an element of surprise. They're great for all year round entertaining.

If you could pick anyone, dead or alive, who are the top three people you'd like to invite over for dinner?
Pablo Picasso, Grace Kelly and Michael Kors. Grace Kelly had an impeccable sense of style, Michael Kors has the best sense of humour and Picasso was the greatest creative talent. I'd love to have them all at the same table.

What about last-minute entertaining. Where do you turn first?
I keep a case of my favorite wines on hand so I'm always prepared for guests. I love Clos Beylesse Côtes de Provence rosé. If I'm hosting people for dinner, I'll order a strawberry rhubarb pie from Tate's Bake Shop (in Southampton, New York). They're delicious and make the perfect dessert paired with ice cream.

What would we find on your dinner party playlist?
I like to play modern music. Maroon 5, Coldplay and Daft Punk are always on my playlist.

The AERIN Collection, from $12, is available at all Williams-Sonoma Australia retail locations (Bondi, Chatswood and Chadstone) and online from 31 May, williams-sonoma.com.au







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