I’ve got a lot on my mind. Rihanna’s halftime set and whether or not it will include "Kiss It Better," Manu Rios' Prada tank top at the house’s Spring 2023 show, Big Brother 24 winner Taylor Hale’s Jovani jumpsuit, Shawn Mendes' copper Ayurveda water bottle, KiKi Layne’s latest Instagram post, Adam Levine’s ex-yoga teacher speaking out for no reason whatsoever.
But I think today we ought to focus our attention on two misguided attempts at turning celebrity into brand, one from the world of Hollywood and one from the world of reality television, both with similarly ill-advised price points and both with delusions of grandeur.
Brad Pitt Wants Your Money, He’ll Throw in Some Skincare as a Thank You
Eyes on the chalkboard now repeat after me: Not every celebrity needs a skincare brand. This is a lesson I wish Brad Pitt would have been in attendance for, but instead he was at his 1,800-acre vineyard, Château Miraval, shilling for his new skincare brand.
Some celebrity brands just make sense. Goop being perhaps the best example. Fenty, another great example. Others simply do not. I’m not not talking to you, Scarlett Johansson. Brad Pitt’s newest venture, a genderless skincare brand with extremely questionable packaging called Le Domaine, seeks to be solution for a problem no one has. "It is about imitating nature's organic cycles, its original beauty," Pitt says at the base of the brand’s website. "In nature, there is no concept of waste. Every discarded thing becomes nourishment for another. This is circularity for Le Domaine." These are words, yes. Some might call them sentences, even. But thoughts? That designation I won’t bestow.
Pitt himself seems downright apathetic about it. When asked what his regimen is or if she can have a product demonstration, Pitt, in an exclusive interview with Vogue, responds. "I’m not doing that!" Another attempt is made to try to get him to talk about how his routine has evolved, but instead he responds: "I wouldn’t know how to do that, unless it was a comedy," before turning the conversation to a movie he was once developing with Sandra Bullock about a husband/wife QVC duo seeking a divorce. Asked why it’s important to him that Le Domaine’s approach is genderless, Pitt goes on to speak about being "the kind of person who will change hotel rooms if I can smell the cologne of the last person who stayed there!"
\u201cbrad pitt releasing a \u201cgenderless\u201d skincare line is already questionable but putting \u201cno conservatives\u201d when they meant \u201cno preservatives\u201d is taking me out\u201d— matt (@matt) 1663799110
Though Vogue claims he’s made a conscious decision "not to front the brand as the 'face,'" Pitt not only posed for Vogue but is prominently featured on the brand’s Instagram account. And wouldn’t you know, it’s their best performing post by a longshot. Look, celebrities do cash grabs all of the time. That I don’t take issue with. But Pitt, an award-winning actor, seems unable to even feign any interest in this, a clear as day indicator that this is not some passion project fully realized. When asked about his beauty secret from Elle, Pitt responds: "Try to be physical a little bit, try to eat healthy a little bit, gotta cheat though, try to stay creative, all of that." Go on girl, give us nothing.
And then there’s the price point. At launch, Le Domaine offers only three products (a fourth is coming in January): a $80 cleanser, a $320 moisturizer and $385 serum. It’s a laughable price point (Dior’s serum retails for $92, by comparison) for an actor with no background in skincare or wellness. If you could package '90s Brad Pitt then maybe one could consider such a price point, but with no track record and nothing to go on but trust in the Pitt name, this venture is asking a lot of us. Patrick Bateman’s morning routine montage in American Psycho this ain’t.
From one ill-advised brand to another...
I’m Ready to Talk About SHE by Shereé
Admittedly, I should have covered the SHE by Shereé debacle in my latest column, but, taking cues from her decade-plus-in-the-making collection, I waited. I needed time to properly assess the epic fail that had all of the ingredients for mass triumph.
SHE by Shereé first came into the public consciousness in 2008 during Season 1 of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. A newly divorced and ready for the next chapter Shereé Whitfield attempted to mount a fashion presentation. The day before the viewing, Whitfield was left stunned when she found a plastic bag of clothing on her front step. "It looks like a two year old sewed them," Whitfield told her friend hours before the show the next day in a rare moment of clearheadedness. "I can’t deal with these below average mediocre people," she said. "They talk a good game and I always fall for it." Again, a glimmer of self-awareness that will evade us from here. The show was a disaster. "Who was this wonderful person that was giving a fashion show without fashions? How dreadful," her friend Dwight Eubanks famously quipped during a pedicure the next day.
In the finale episode, Whitfield met with the late Project Runway contestant Michael Knight and revealed, "I had a viewing... but I wasn’t able to view anything because I wasn’t gonna show pieces that were not up to par." This would prove a specter of a statement. "The old saying holds true: You get what you pay for," Knight told her, before informing her that she needs to study textiles and do her research. "I didn’t pick this out," she countered as a means of explanation without seeing this as a red flag reveal.
And thus began the failures not just of the brand but of Whitfield’s inability to properly speak to or about it. During the Season 10 reunion of the show, when asked what happened to SHE by Shereé, Whitfield famously responded, "Joggers." When asked to clarify, she went on to say, "It’s more joggers." When host Andy Cohen attempted to clarify that it was athletic wear, Whitfield agreed, adding, "...but lifestyle." Asked for the date of when this collection, now at that point a decade in the making, would finally drop, Whitfield responded: "Probably more September. For a... that is uh Spring/Summer. September show Spring/Summer."
Like so many Housewives born brands (see: Sonja’s toaster oven as the other prime example), the idea for SHE by Shereé was just that, and nothing more, that then grew into a legend, not for what it is or was, but for what it wasn’t and quite possible could never. "Greatness takes time," she told Us Weekly in October 2018. When Whitfield was announced to be returning a second time for the show’s 14th season earlier this year, many wondered if, after a three year absence, the brand might finally be ready for lift off. The finale episode, pointedly titled, "A Fashion Show Without Fashions," attempted to give Whitfield a 14 years in the making redemption. As promised, we got joggers. "After 14 years, I did it," Whitfield declassified. Did what exactly, many wondered.
The true reveal came when the clothing itself went on sale minutes after the episode concluded... or until the site quickly crashed. What was available quickly came under fire. There were copycat accusations, the reveal that she used the same manufacturer as Shein and that she was trying to sell wrinkled graphic T-s for $142 a pop (they have since gone down in price point). It’s a sad ending to a sad story. Mostly because of the fact that many of us were rooting for Shereé to get the last laugh in spite of letting her fans down with empty promises for years. She had enough public goodwill to turn this narrative around entirely and instead gracelessly fumbled the ball.
Welcome to "Wear Me Out,"a column by pop culture fiend Evan Ross Katz that takes a deep dive into celebrity dressing. From award shows and movie premieres to grocery store runs, he'll keep you up to date on what your favorite celebs have recently worn to the biggest and most inconsequential events.
Photos via shebysheree.shop