Lunch with Brad Pitt? There are worse! We met the actor in France and talked to him about his new skincare line and tips from his ex-wives.
The following email from an unknown source landed in my inbox a few months ago: "Would you be interested in meeting Brad Pitt to talk about his latest project, a new skincare line called 'Le Domaine'?" The exact time, date and location were still being withheld, but I was to call a cell phone number to get more details.
As GLAMOUR's European Beauty Director, I've worked with quite a few celebrities, and I've also received many great invitations, but even I think something that sounds too good to be true. Because there was a risk that the invitation was a hoax, I had no intention of calling the number, but instead sent a questioning email response. A week later, I still hadn't heard back and was annoyed that I might have blown my one chance to meet Brad Pitt. So I sent a second email and received another mysterious request to call, and this time I thought, "Why not? What could go wrong with a phone call?"
After a nice conversation and an agreement that no information would be sent via email to ensure absolute discretion, one more was added to the offer. I would travel to Château Miraval in Provence – Brad Pitt's vacation home and winery. That's right: the chateau where he and Angelina Jolie were married in 2014 amid their gaggle of children. The chateau that is currently the subject of a legal dispute after Angelina Jolie sold her share; and the chateau where the delicious "Rosé Miraval" is also produced. Brad Pitt and rosé wine – can there be anything more beautiful?
First, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, a common procedure with celebrities to ensure that nothing was leaked in advance. However, as the entire planning of my visit, which went on for several months, continued to be very secretive, I still had doubts about whether it was all real. So I asked a journalist friend of mine, who I assumed had also received the call request. I wondered if she might have had more information. We laughed about how high (or low) the probability would be that we would actually meet Brad Pitt, and joked about being kidnapped by him and how that wouldn't be so bad after all! One can dream, after all…
After careful consideration, I decided to just go for it, and as it turned out, I did indeed meet Brad Pitt one afternoon in September. And what transpired over the next few hours was a fascinating glimpse into Brad's creative world – and, of course, lots of rosé.
The day I met Brad Pitt for lunch
So after arriving at Château Miraval in the hills of Provence and passing through security, we made the bumpy five-kilometer drive through the idyllic, picturesque vineyards, past the château, the family soccer field and oval pool, a mini stone amphitheater, and the Miraval recording studios (where bands like The Who, Wham, and Sade have recorded albums and which have recently been turned into a state-of-the-art, super-chic Brad-designed recording space for artists: Inside).
We were warmly greeted by the Perrin family, one of France's most legendary wine producers, involved in the making of Miraval wine, and also co-founders of the new skincare line. And then it was time: Brad Pitt came to us in a purple linen suit, a sky-blue T-shirt and sneakers, completely unagitated and relaxed: "Please consider it your home and make yourself as comfortable as possible," he encouraged us.
On the sunny veranda of his rustic Provençal retreat, nestled among olive groves, almond trees, and grapevines, the conversation between Brad Pitt and me turned primarily to skin care. Le Domaine, his new cosmetics line, is a vegan, gender-neutral 3-step skin care line with a cleanser, serum and cream based on a blend of science and nature. The name "Le Domaine" was inspired by the natural beauty and power of the land where we sat, and the scientific roots and commitment to sustainability were inspired by the organic wine production on the estate.
The story began a few years ago, explains Brad Pitt: "We know what stage we're at in terms of the environment, and the idea that there's no waste in nature is a concept that has always stuck with me, and we're really trying to implement it here [with organic wine production]. When the idea [of skincare] came up, we read about the beneficial, health properties that are in the skin of grapes thanks to antioxidants. And then it occurred to us that we usually just throw those away during production, and then our investigation started a few years ago."
Skin care seems to be new territory for Brad Pitt, both personally and professionally, as he refreshingly admits that he's been pretty clueless about skin care in the past: "Honestly, I've been a tourist [about skin care] at best." So he used to use shower gel as a facial cleanser with a clear conscience when nothing else was around. When asked what he used to use for skin care, he replies, "Usually what my partner had, and they were pretty good at it. I was usually told, 'You should try this' or 'You really need this.'"
So did he learn any beauty or wellness secrets from current or ex-partners? "Aniston sends me stuff all the time. I haven't tried them [her hair care] yet, but she's sent them to me. She's totally into it, and I trust her. Gwyneth is all about hair care tips, too. If I call her and say, 'I need a tip,' it's approved or not." Yes, of course, that means wife number one Jennifer Aniston and '90s girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow, who know their stuff thanks to their LolaVie hair series and, of course, their Goop empire.
Brad Pitt describes his own wellness routine as simple: "I try to stay physically fit, eat a little healthy and stay creative." And what about a glass of wine? "I've stopped for a while, I'm taking a break that I've brought on myself," he reveals. And what's the most radical thing he's ever done in terms of beauty and wellness? "I once participated in a spiritual retreat. You know how in L.A. we are the pioneers of the spiritual industry," he says with a knowing grin.
However, when it comes to his work and filming, he thanks his makeup artist for keeping his skin in shape: "I've had a makeup artist friend [Jean Black] for 30 years who is always bringing me new things for healthy skin that focus on skincare rather than beauty, like [LED] masks with red lights. I try stuff like that then, but I don't stick with it because it's too much work for me. While shooting, Jean makes sure I eat healthy and take care of myself. I prefer to keep it simple – as most men probably do." On the subject of aging, he goes on to say, "I don't know if I'm running away from aging, but the idea of being a little more health conscious is something I find interesting."
As such a famous face, one might have expected him to promote an established brand during his career, but he says, "I didn't see the point of being a face for anything else – that was never my strong suit. As an actor, I was sent every new brand for decades, and frankly I couldn't tell the difference. I would need something crass to see the difference. We did the [clinical] testing while I was using the products last year, and to my surprise, I could really tell a difference. Honestly, we wouldn't have launched the product if we hadn't seen a difference."
The results that impressed Brad Pitt are due in part to more than a decade of scientific research by oenology professor Pierre-Louis Teissedre, a wine and human health specialist who explored the most potent antioxidant properties of the grape varieties on the Perrin family vineyard. This work led to the development of GSM10, an exclusive molecule derived from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grape extracts that combats oxidative stress, which in turn accelerates skin aging processes and effects. The potency is further enhanced by ProGr3, an active ingredient made from chamomile, green tea and grapevine extracts, developed by scientist Dr. Nicolas Levy, a specialist in skin aging. These exclusive active ingredients, along with a variety of other natural and reliable skincare ingredients, form the core of the skincare line. The serum contains two weights of hyaluronic acid, and the cream is enriched with Miraval olive oil and shea butter. All three products are made from 96 to 99 percent natural ingredients.
Even though Brad Pitt doesn't put his face on the brand, it's clear that he was involved from the philosophy to the design to the scent: "I didn't want it to smell too intense, because you know sometimes you get punched in the face [by a scent]. I go into a hotel room and change rooms when I smell perfume." The final scent is a gentle blend of orris root, orange blossom and woods that perhaps borders on the masculine rather than the genderless. When asked about his own signature scent, he laughingly replies, "Yes, it's called B.O.!" (standing for "body odour").
As for the design, he says, "The packaging is the fun part. I liked the idea of upcycling oak wood from the Perrin wineries' wine barrels," which are used to make the handcrafted, curved wooden lids for the glass bottles. They seem to fit his love of architecture, and the idea is that when turned upside down, they serve as stands for the glass bottles – refill bottles are also available. The only plastic element on the products is the pump.
After a delicious lunch (a rustic version of a salade niçoise and berries with lemon sorbet, if you want to get specific) and a tour of the newly redesigned Miraval studios (no photos allowed), it was time to say goodbye. But since I was one of the first to get to see Le Domaine (and to be completely transparent, I was also treated to the trip), I got to work testing the products myself. After a week, it's still too early for a comprehensive verdict, which should ideally be at least 28 days, but here are my thoughts so far….
I'm basically a serum fan, so I knew I would agree with Brad since he himself says the serum is his favorite in the product line. However, I did find that it did peel a bit around the edges of my face after application, so I would suggest that it's best used in the evening and not under a heavily made up face. The cream feels light, but is still nourishing and can also be used as a lip and eye cream. My favorite, however, would be the Fluide Cream, which is set to launch in January 2023. Admittedly, the range is quite expensive, with the cleansing emulsion costing 70 euros and the serum costing as much as 350 euros, which is beyond many beauty budgets – mine included. I would argue that there are better products on the market for that price, and there are other brands known for using antioxidants from wine, but the commitment to sustainable products is something that more luxury brands should take to heart. All in all, I enjoyed applying Brad's subtle scent, and I'm excited by the idea that this double load of antioxidants reduces the impact of my own sometimes-too-casual approach to skincare. And I'll raise a glass of Miraval to that!