Lights, Camera, Act IV

It would be a surprise to find anyone in today’s world unfamiliar with a name as ubiquitous as Estée Lauder. Estée and her husband launched her namesake company in 1946, based on the premise that every woman can be beautiful. Aside from being a top beauty brand with its own makeup and skincare line today, Estée Lauder has transformed into an empire, housing more than 20 leading brands, and reaching women in over 150 countries.

Danielle Lauder wearing a Jason Wu dress, René Caovilla heels, and Wendy Yue earrings in The Pierre’s lobby. (Photos by Julie Skarratt)

While building this global megabrand, Estée Lauder also served as a role model, wife, and mother to her family, who she invited to join her at the business. She would be pleased to know that her innate instincts for what women want, along with her passion and creativity, have been passed down the family tree. Today, her great granddaughter Danielle Lauder, just 26 years old, is an actress who recently launched her own limited-edition makeup collection, Act IV, within the Estée Lauder company.

Danielle Lauder wearing a dress by Ralph Lauren, an Alexander McQueen belt, and Via Saviene earrings, while applying makeup from her new collection, ACT IV, in The Pierre’s Park Suite.

Last month at The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, Danielle donned her new makeup collection, while also showing off her favorite looks of the season for our Spring Style shoot. As we sat in the hotel’s elegant Park Suite overlooking Central Park, Danielle told me more about Act IV, a name that represents both her acting career and status as a fourth generation Lauder. While the family legacy was a source of inspiration for Danielle, the real spark came in her college dorm room. Constantly taping auditions that lacked professional lighting, she longed for a way to enhance her looks without a professional makeup artist or camera equipment. “I thought to myself, ‘How can I use product to get that natural and subtle, on-cam glam look with just three-point lighting?’” Danielle recalled. Eventually, as she was spending more time studying product than her audition lines, she came to the realization that makeup was her true calling. “It was something I became very interested in and I wanted to create a collection that was universal and not intimidating, no matter what type of beauty routine you like to do. I wanted the colors to be subtle enough to not overwhelm people who aren’t really experienced using makeup but still feel compelled [to use it] because the payoff and the actual colors of the entire palette are beautiful,” Danielle told me.

Danielle Lauder wearing a sequin dress by Naeem Khan and Wendy Yue earrings in The Pierre’s lobby.
Danielle Lauder in a Bibhu Mohapatra dress, Jacob & Co. stud earrings, and Jimmy Choo heels in The Pierre’s Two E Bar & Lounge.
Danielle Lauder sitting in the Pierre’s lobby in a Naeem Khan dress, Wendy Yue earrings, and Rene Caovilla heels.

From there, Danielle began working in product development for Estée Lauder in New York, where she spent her days studying ANA trend books, snapping photos of buttons, strings, textures, pieces, and fabrics to produce live mood boards. She brought those exact mood boards to the lab and, after much trial and error, came up with her palette—neutrals with a touch of pink and brightness to add femininity. “While I grew up around beauty, the legacy is on my dad’s side and he didn’t bring the office home with him, so I really came into this on my own. I was lucky I had a huge repertoire to play with, but I think the fact that I wasn’t brought up as a makeup queen and didn’t work in product development until recently allowed me to bring a fresher and younger perspective that wasn’t inspired by other products, but rather just my random creativity.” Although Danielle’s collection is unique, it espouses the same ethos that Estée built her business around. “Estée always believed that every woman can be beautiful because she is beautiful. It just takes a little bit of effort and that effort can just be a lipstick that illuminates your best self, versus applying a lot of coverage to hide what you think your flaws are.” When asked how she wanted ACT IV to make people feel, she responded, “I want to make every woman feel beautiful and the star of her own life.”

Danielle Lauder in a gown by J. Mendel and Jacob & Co. diamond
stud earrings in The Pierre’s Rotunda.
Danielle Lauder in an Oscar de la Renta dress, Jimmy Choo heels, and a Swati Dhanak ring in The Pierre’s Rotunda.
Danielle Lauder heading to Central Park, wearing a dress by Carolina Herrera, Jacob & Co. earrings, and Jimmy Choo heels.
Danielle twirls in The Pierre’s Rotunda while donning a dress by Oscar de la Renta and
Jimmy Choo heels.