Château Miraval, Brad Pitt’s rosé-producing vineyard in Provence, is so vast it’s almost a 20-minute drive from the front door – past views of terraced vineyards and lavender fields, across groves of ancient trees covered in lichen – before seeing any buildings at all. Just outside the guest house, a small fairytale house engulfed in vines, Pitt drifts around a lawn, shaking hands and posing for photos with a small group of international editors who have were invited to the unveiling of its new unisex skincare line, Le Domaine. Tables presenting the products are grouped under a bicentenary oak tree; the scent of rosemary wafts through the air; Tusca, a truffle-hunting puppy (because yes, truffles also grow here), is lounging in the grass; the rosé is runny. It’s about as idyllic as it gets.
For Pitt, it was important to introduce Le Domaine here, because the lineage is intrinsically linked to Château Miraval, which he bought with his ex-wife Angelina Jolie in 2008. It is a place apart, guided by a philosophy quite special, and it’s the Domain’s origin story – along with a battery of clinical studies and heavy scientific patents – that sets it apart from the seemingly relentless deluge of celebrity skincare brands (yawn) which appeared this year.
Pitt’s partner in the project is Marc Perrin, a fifth-generation winemaker whose family is famous for pioneering organic and biodynamic viticulture at Château de Beaucastel, a Rhone Valley vineyard they have owned since 1909. (he’s also Pitt’s partner at Miraval, where he helped bring rosé to life for its much-vaunted 2012 relaunch). To create Le Domaine, they worked with Dr. Pierre-Louis Teissedre, professor at the University Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences in Bordeaux (and author of more than 200 books and articles), who analyzed the antioxidant properties of the 13 varieties of grapes grown on the Perrin family’s vineyards for more than a decade, and with Nicolas Levy, a scientist specializing in progeria, a rare disease with rapid aging. From Teissedre, Le Domaine acquired GSM10, an ingredient it developed from recycled Beaucastel grape marc, including the seeds of Grenache grapes and the seeds and skin of Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes, which proven to be exceptionally powerful in reducing oxidative stress on the skin. And from Levy, a patented molecule called ProGr3 (a combination of vine-derived resveratrol, apigenin from chamomile extract and catechin from green tea) that attenuates the activity of progerin, a toxic protein that is accumulates in cells and contributes to the visible signs of aging. Together, these two ingredients place Le Domaine in a category of its own.
For Pit? They just work. “I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about science,” he says. “As a filmmaker, I’ve been getting stuff from brands for decades, and frankly, I couldn’t tell the difference. I wouldn’t have released it if I hadn’t seen it work. I don’t know how to run away from aging, but this idea of being more health conscious with our skin and with our diet is something I’m interested in. He’s been involved in every step of the Estate’s development, from choosing from the name to the design of the packaging to the testing of each product for more than a year (his favorite is the cream, by the way), but you will not see the famous face of Pitt, who only indeed, look particularly shiny and smooth, in all the ads.The Estate, he insists, “isn’t meant to be a celebrity brand.”
In keeping with agricultural practices at Miraval, it was important to Perrin and Pitt that skin care be as sustainable as possible. “You know the state we’re in environmentally,” says Pitt. “The idea that there is no waste in nature is something that has always stuck with me and we are really trying to apply it here.” Namely, the four products in the line – a cleanser, a serum, a cream and a lotion which will be introduced in January – are at least 96% natural (ingredients include organic olive oil harvested at Miraval, shea butter and stem cells from vine flowers), and the packaging is recyclable and refillable, with corks made from oak offcuts from wine barrels.
Ultimately, says Pitt, The Estate is part of a larger Medici-type mission he has for Miraval. “What I feel here is that it’s a place of great creativity,” he says, waving at the endless terraces of vines that glisten in the afternoon sun. “Historically, it’s always been that way. There are remains of Roman roads and an ancient Roman enclave from thousands of years ago. It served as a monastery in the 1300s and played a role in the Renaissance. Pitt wants to make it a place where artists can come to relax and be inspired, a kind of ultra-exclusive retreat with views to die for and rosé on tap. He’s even spent the past two years renovating Studio Miraval, which was built in the 1970s by then-owner Jacques Loussier, a French jazz musician. In its heyday, the studio hosted artists like Sade, The Cure, Wham and Pink Floyd (who legendary recorded The Wall within its walls); with the help of prodigy producer Damien Quintard, Pitt has elevated it to a state-of-the-art facility that will bring back big names. “I’ve brought a lot of artist friends, painters and sculptors, and they’re all feeling the vibe,” he says. “They come and stay for months at a time and do things here. It’s all part of a big vision. And skincare fits that perfectly for me.
April Long writes about beauty, wellness, and luxury skincare for City & Country.