Don’t be fooled by Brad Pitt’s skincare, skirts and smiles

Jonny Mahon-Heap is a cultural journalist and former public relations professional.

OPINION: Brad Pitt may be the original Hollywood heartthrob — but the star’s bright light has started to dim as of late.

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That is, until his PR team gave him an award-winning makeover.

Brad Pitt waves at the premiere of Blonde, produced by his production company Plan B.

Joel C Ryan

Brad Pitt waves at the premiere of Blonde, produced by his production company Plan B.

Pitt’s revamped red carpet wardrobe and newly launched Le Domaine skincare line are the latest in a series of maneuvers by Pitt’s creative team to redeem his image – in a way that parallels Hollywood’s rehabilitation of other embattled male stars, including Shia LaBoeuf, Johnny matches Depp and Casey Affleck.

The Hollywood comeback cycle wastes not a second in fabricating a redemption — the plan to whitewash their transgressions with stunt media tactics and a smoothly orchestrated return to the spotlight — it’s transparent and depressing and, well, highly effective.

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But is Pitt’s newfound love for brightly colored fabrics and retinol really a style revolution, or is it a carpet puller designed to make us care more about his new moisturizer than his bad behavior?

In this week’s glowing Vogue interview with Pitt, in which he details Le Domaine’s $800 “sexless” skincare line with serums, he muses on the brand’s creative potential — how he’s benefiting from it feels “in a way like the old Renaissance artists”. (“What’s your regime?” Vogue asks. Pitt balks, “I don’t do it the!”)

But it’s no coincidence that Pitt was quick to reveal Le Domaine after new public FBI records were released detailing ex-wife Angelina Jolie’s allegations of a 2016 altercation with Pitt on their private plane.

It's been six years since Pitt and Jolie divorced, and the acrimonious feud continues.

Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

It’s been six years since Pitt and Jolie divorced, and the acrimonious feud continues.

The couple, who have six children together, have been embroiled in several acrimonious legal battles but have never spoken publicly about the 2016 incident involving their then 15-year-old son Maddox.

In the notes of the FBI special agent reporting the argument, Pitt drank and berated Jolie, saying things like “You’re ruining this family” while their children were on board. She said he poured beer all over her. He grabbed her and shook her, leaving wounds on her back and elbows.

When Jolie asked her then-partner of 12 what was the matter, she claimed he replied, referring to Maddox, who is known for his goth fashion, “That kid looks like a ‘fucking Columbine kid.’

As the acrimony between the two rages on, Pitt has taken to red carpets worldwide, showing off playful linen looks for his new action comedy Bullet Train.

He then popped into a Finnish art gallery for a surprise display of his sculptural work – iconic ceramic pieces he made while filming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Next came the overwhelming media obsession with his looks – The Cut listed his 2022 red carpet outfits, Vogue penned “An Ode to Brad Pitt’s New Style Era” and GQ featured him in glowing cover stories – twice.

The latter, written by Ottessa Moshfegh, author of “My Year of Rest and Relaxation,” is a breathless and slightly cheesy cover story that casts acclaimed author Pitt not only as “affable,” “charming,” but also as “psychic” and “Having” described a Buddhist style of detachment.”

Brad Pitt, Hollywood heartthrob and skincare influencer.

Getty Images

Brad Pitt, Hollywood heartthrob and skincare influencer.

2022 is going to be a big year for Pitt – fresh from the Cannes Film Festival promoting Blonde and next up is Damien Chazelle-directed Hollywood epic Babylon, starring La La Land and starring Margot Robbie .

The path to salvation shines bright and clear as if it never veered off course.

His PR team’s moves are designed not only to distract us from the legal issues, but to convince us that they don’t really matter: win nostalgic sympathy by doubling down on star power and reminding us of Pitt’s brand appeal as magazines, directors, and co-stars recall, seem to be tacitly supporting the actor.

In his film Killing Them Softly, Pitt plays a weary killer who sums up his worldview in one scene: “In America, everyone is on their own – it’s not a country, just a business.”

And in America, or anywhere it seems, Brad Pitt’s business is still booming.

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