Gwyneth Paltrow, figurehead of aspirational living, has a great many things under control. Her wellness empire, her abdominals, even the imprint of time itself, as suggested by her 50th birthday arriving September 27. (Paltrow is a Libra, which Susan Miller’s Astrology Zone sums up in two words: “Socialize, Beautify.”) But early last week, the forecast was not cooperating. Threat of rain meant that the planned alfresco Goop dinner would no longer take place at “GP’s House,” in the Hamptons town of Amagansett, where photos of the property and geotagging were politely discouraged. Instead, there was a last-minute change of venue, fairy godmother–style, to a barnlike structure on a friend’s property. Chickens roamed in a chicly appointed pen about the size of a Manhattan studio apartment. An allée of apple trees sidled up to a minimalist playground.
Guests filed in, dressed for dinner as if swanning to bed: Savannah Guthrie in silk florals, a cat-print set on Jessica Seinfeld, MoAnA Luu in stripes. It was a certain kind of pajama party, accessorized with mini bottles of Cartier champagne, to fete the new Dark Spot Exfoliating Sleep Milk, from the brand’s skin-care label, GOOPGLOW. The glum sky seemed to brighten just as a figure in marigold yellow glided through the vegetable garden—a sunbeam in human form. Paltrow had arrived. “Brian, you win the prize!” she told a friend in a cranberry knit hat, winsomely schlubby pants, and black cardigan—all clothes, he attested, that had actually been slept in at some point. But it was the host’s look that would be catnip for fashion blogs by morning: a three-piece Olivia von Halle set, centered around a silk bra top that revealed a torso famously whittled by Tracy Anderson workouts. (Anderson, meanwhile, was sitting cross-legged on a nearby sofa, her cotton PJs decked in tiny palm trees.)
Naturally, the evening involved a little imagination. Not quite GP’s house; not quite GP’s bedtime attire. “I sleep naked, but I wear pajamas when I get up and walk around and have coffee,” Paltrow explains when we catch up by phone following the event. Her go-tos are classic men’s pajamas and the “really, really comfortable sleep loungewear from a brand called Lunya that I adore,” she says, dishing out recommendations—the pima cotton wide-leg pants and “little tops”—as she has since her first newsletter landed in 2008. (Shoppers can find a Lunya edit on Goop’s website; former chief merchandising officer Blair Lawson was recently named Lunya’s new CEO.)
Paltrow is serious about sleep—a time when the body switches into Do Not Disturb mode and engages in self-repair, from waste removal in the brain to skin renewal. Given all the nighttime active ingredients one can bottle up, such as derm-favorite retinol, what did she want Sleep Milk to deliver? “Well, I have lived a very robust life in the sun and am coming to lament my lack of sunscreen, especially in the ’80s and ’90s when we used to lay out with baby oil on our skin,” Paltrow sighs, looking back on the period leading up to her breakout role in 1995’s Se7en. (Another relic of that era: “those little cigarette lines around my lips.”) Given the milestone birthday ahead and her taste for minimal makeup, the matter on her mind is how to best preserve and revive skin. This latest bid, doled out to beauty-savvy dinner guests like Shen founder Jessica Richards and Westman Atelier’s Gucci Westman, spurs overnight exfoliation with an easygoing 10% acid blend (lactic plus free-form and encapsulated versions of glycolic); calming agents, like squalene and a “desert milk” complex with Kalahari melon, help maintain the moisture balance. The result summons a profusion of Goop-bestowed adjectives: “glowy, smooth, dewy-fresh, spotlessly even-toned”—which sounds rather like the biological equivalent of a yellow satin bra top, unblemished by a stray drip of lavender sleep tonic, which capped off the pajama party.