This week, Gwyneth Paltrow, but more likely the people who work for her, launched a six-day Goop pop-up in Los Angeles in the tony 'hood of Brentwood. It was all the things you'd expect exactly at the correct place in the universe where you would most expect it. I asked a friend to meet me and drove 5.7 miles to check it out.
I'd never been to the Brentwood Country Mart. But it looks a lot like the Malibu Country Mart, which also traffics in the affluent rustic vibe, where everything feels clean, breezy, minimalist and bespoke, while also vaguely outdoorsy. The people wandering around were thin, mostly white, aging but well preserved midday shoppers who all intuitively understood they should be wearing either the exact same yoga clothes or the exact same extremely expensive casual wear.
This is the hallway leading to Goop. Goop's door is the most open door on the far right, which probably means something.
Goop itself fit right in to the existing Brentwood Country Mart vibe. Is that because the Brentwood Country Mart is already Goopy, or because Goop is the Brentwood Country Mart on the page, or because Goop is all things to all (rich white) people?
Things I learned about rich people from browsing the Goop store:
A lot of things cost about $250.
Like these purses:
A splash of color is permitted, but only a splash.
Everything was very neutral or nautical in beige, gray, black, navy, or white. Every now and then something was red or had a splash of orange, but only every now and then, because taste.
There are two modes to exist in: Casual and formal.
You're definitely supposed to know how to pair these things.
Rich people know how to space things the correct amount of space apart.
Somehow everything was spaced the right amount of distance apart. I don't know what that distance is or how all the rich people know what it is but they do, because every store in the place had this spacing.
There's always something that costs a lot that doesn't make sense.
The most expensive thing in the joint may have been the gray couch for $7000, but I'm talking about a different kind of pointless expense. Like this Michael Kors sweater was $950.
You know it would look like shit after one washing (Joke's on me! Bet you never wash it). It actually already looks kind of old, and without even knowing anything about what makes a sweater objectively better than another sweater other than my personal feelings, this has way too thick ribbing to be worth more than $28, tops. Plus, the waist thing is wrong. It's a mistake. If this sweater was at Old Navy I'd be like, I guess.
That whole nice version of a thing and a casual version of a thing and you can't tell the difference thing? That happened a lot.
I didn't get a picture but there was a formal blazer for $1500 and a casual version with a hoodie for $895, but at either price I would feel like I should be able to get into the Met Ball.
Rich people know how to emphasize their differentness without emphasizing their differentness.
This picture inadvertently did the trick. It's clearly a picture of the Two Americas — the people who can buy things at Goop and the people who can't. Also, that bottle of night cream with the green lid was $150.
Goop from above. Cute apartment! Honestly I really dig the pink walls.
Stripes are always something you should have hanging around just in case.
Correctly spaced neutral items feel as skinny as my phone made them look.
This is called restraint.
Every so often something is allowed to be shockingly affordable.
See those silver espresso cups? Right there in the middle? $10.
These napkins were $45 each:
But come on, we're still rich.
These spoons were $650.
Faces should also have a splash of color.
Rich things often have a way of making all rich people look the same. Rich solution? Monogramming.
Corners should never be bare.
[Inner monologue: Go ahead, put something there. Anything. Here, use this lonely cooking twine. Quick! They'll be here any minute!]
Here are some other "one of a kind" things that were "sourced from around the world" and for sale there according to the Daily Beast:
Stuff like a $345 key-shaped brass bottle opener by Viennese modernist designer Carl Aubock.
And an $825 silver Walker & Hall Sheffield ice bucket.
And a giant, fluffy $265 Icelandic shearling pillow.
And a $1,750 marble and steel side table.
And a vintage 1980s Christian Dior leather backgammon set—only $2,350!
I was more fascinated by the women in the dressing room trying on a jumper taking turns exclaiming to their friend:
That looks amazing on you!
OMG you have exactly the body for that!
You HAVE to get that!
Later, they rang up as we left at $1345, which was probably a jumper and a napkin.
All that browsing made us hungry, so we went down the hall to the impeccably spaced Farmshop and had vegetable salads for $14 which were as good as steaks. We had left Goop, but we had never left Goop. The woman next to us spent the entire time talking on an iPhone whose cover had a built-in set of brass knuckles on the side, I guess in case someone tried to approach you while you were on your phone you could punch them in the face and keep talking.
My friend, who lived in Brentwood for years and acts as a kind of translator of rich things for me — she once taught me how to tell which t-shirts on complete strangers are $300 — said the brass knuckles were at least $650. She remembered that in Goop's jewelry case there were also a pair of brass knuckles for sale, which at least proves rich people understand what it means to be street smart, too.
Illustration by Jim Cooke.