I started hearing his name whispered around town more than a decade ago. I heard that he had rejuvenated the faces of a lot of celebrities, that a certain single-named singer was a favorite client, and that he used techniques so advanced no one else could keep up. Everyone seemed to have a different story about this mysterious Dr. Brandt. Out of curiosity, I accompanied a friend to her appointment, and I was amazed by the man I met.
I didn’t expect this beauty magician to be so warm and alive, humming show tunes, snacking on almonds, and making jokes while working with his patients in a remarkably warm, personal, and intimate manner.
Then, he was a cult figure. Today, Dr. Brandt has gone from being a best-kept secret to an international phenomenon. He has changed the fundamental concepts of beauty preservation and restoration and has rescued many patients from the permanent and unpredictable results of plastic surgery. With Dr. Brandt’s methods there is no cutting, no faces pulled back behind the ears leaving a mask without character and detail. He restores faces by the artful administration of injections of Botox, Restylane, and collagen.
Such work is hardly unique to Dr. Brandt. What is unique is his aesthetic eye and his sound judgment. He doesn’t let his patients get out of control. Women who think they need a face-lift, neck-lift, or eye procedure often find a simple solution to their problems in a single session with Dr. Brandt. His aim is not alteration but preservation. Aging is natural, and Dr. Brandt doesn’t stop it—he just slows the effect and makes it happen more gracefully. Dr. Brandt’s methodology is not based on his imagination but on emulating the actual shape of his patients’ faces in their youth. I’ve recommended him to many friends in the past 10 years (including my fellow interviewer, Jane Holzer). I’ll see them a month later and they’ll say, “I finally went to see Dr. Brandt.” But they really didn’t have to tell me—I could tell by how amazing they look. He is tremendously popular and not easy to get in to see. And in trying to spread his message to the world, he’s launched a home skin-care line.
Fredric Brandt is a modern dandy who really looks like he just stepped off the runway. Every day he goes to work dressed head to toe in a different designer, from Dior to Lanvin. He’s a health nut who believes that exercise and eating right are an essential part of staying young (as is sunblock). He’s also a collector of modern art and a bit of an amateur rapper on the side (he wrote this one especially for us: Stephanie and Jane, you’re looking fine/Let me look at your face, can’t see a line/Must be Dr. Brandt Skincare you’re using/Because every time I see you the years you are losing . . .) Dr. Brandt is a very special individual: Not only can he fix your laugh lines, but he can also give you them.
JANE HOLZER: I got a phone call from someone last night who couldn’t come over for dinner because he’d just had his face done.
FREDRIC BRANDT: His face?
HOLZER: Yes. I think he should remain anonymous. Mr. Anonymous.
STEPHANIE SEYMOUR BRANT: Is he a celebrity?
HOLZER: Yes, an anonymous celebrity who couldn’t come to dinner.
BRANDT: I don’t know what the big deal is. It wouldn’t keep me home. So you’re a little bruised?
SEYMOUR BRANT: Put a little makeup on. That fixes it! [laughs] So is it true that you wake up at the crack of dawn to exercise and then you work all day?
BRANDT: I do.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I know you’ve told me that, but for some reason it really shocks me how early you get up.
BRANDT: I can give you my routine: I get up at 6:30 a.m. My yoga teacher comes and wakes me. Every morning I always tell him it’s like waking the dead. We do yoga until about 8:00—I have it down to, like, a timetable—and then from 8:00 until 8:25 I shower, brush my teeth, and do all my morning cleansing. Then I eat my breakfast from 8:30 to 8:45, and then at 10 to nine I’m off to the office.
HOLZER: What do you have for breakfast?
BRANDT: I usually have my grains—sometimes granola, sometimes it’s gluten-free cereal with berries—and then I have sliced pineapple and some seven-grain toast.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Are you on a gluten-free diet?
BRANDT: Not totally. I was for a while, but now I eat some wheat products, because a gluten-free diet gets boring after a while. I tend to eat most of my carbs during the day and not at night. I think it’s better because you can burn them off.
HOLZER: What I love is the difference you’ve made in my face. I mean, you’ve made me feel great because you’ve easily taken years off. I don’t look my age anymore . . .
BRANDT: Isn’t that nice?
HOLZER: I love it because I look at ladies who have had face-lifts, and they don’t look as good as I look. The new way to go is to go to you.
BRANDT: What I try to do is to make your face look like it did when you were younger. I always tell people it’s not just about filling in the lines, but re-creating the shape of your face as it was in your early- or mid-twenties. People see the lines as they age but they don’t see how their shape is changing. I think it’s all about restoring the contours. You can fill in a line and it makes you look a little better, but it doesn’t make you look younger.
SEYMOUR BRANT: The most brilliant thing is the neck, because people forget about their necks.
BRANDT: Right. The neck is very important. It’s the base of the aging face. You really want to preserve the neck. I developed a technique with Botox over 10 years ago called the Botox Neck Lift.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Weren’t you scared to experiment?
BRANDT: No, because I tried it on myself first.
SEYMOUR BRANT: That’s what I mean! Wasn’t that scary? Standing in front of the mirror and putting Botox in your neck? Or do you simply think, What’s the worst thing that could happen?
HOLZER: Seriously, what is the worst thing that could happen?
BRANDT: I guess I might have had trouble moving my neck or swallowing, but I knew it would only have been temporary. And I’d rather it happen to myself.
HOLZER: I was so scared of my neck. Remember when I first came to you? And Stephanie talked me into it! Now I just lie back and let you do whatever you want! [laughs]SEYMOUR BRANT: Does every patient just let you do whatever you want?
BRANDT: You have all different types of patients. You have patients who let you do whatever you want, which is great because then you have creative control. But before I do anything, I always discuss it with the patients in detail. I try to explain my ideas and give them the option of either going with what I say or just addressing a specific problem. Some people will start off saying, “Do whatever you want.” Some will start off gradually and then eventually I’ll do whatever I want. And then, of course, some people like to control everything, but eventually they’ll see my ideas are the way they should go. Sometimes it takes time . . .
SEYMOUR BRANT: But inevitably they start to understand.
BRANDT: Exactly. But it takes time and competence and trust, because when you first meet me, you never know . . . So we can go slowly. Some people who I never thought would do anything end up doing everything.
SEYMOUR BRANT: What about the junkies?
BRANDT: There are always people we have to . . . control a little. [laughs] Otherwise they would be moving in here. They want their own room, a coffeemaker, and a little bed right in this office.
HOLZER: I could become a junkie.
SEYMOUR BRANT: It would be easy.
BRANDT: But we try to guide them in the right direction. If they come a lot, then we just don’t do a lot.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I’ve seen you pull that trick. What about my friend? She begged, “More, more, more . . . Come on, give me a little more!” So you sort of say okay just to make her happy, but you barely do anything.
BRANDT: I think some people come in just to make sure they look okay.
SEYMOUR BRANT: They want your blessing.
BRANDT: It’s like going to the hairdresser. They don’t really need to have their hair colored every week, but they like to have it checked. There are addictive personalities.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I wouldn’t know anything about that!
HOLZER: I wouldn’t know anything about that either.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Do you have an addictive personality?
BRANDT: Do I? To some degree, yes. [phone rings] Hold on. [into phone] Oh, yes, her cards . . . [hangs up] One of my patients is a very good healer. She does readings and she left her tarot cards. Anyway, you asked if I was addictive. I can be. You have to control yourself. When you’re in the office and you have a few minutes of silence and you have all of these needles and mirrors around . . .
SEYMOUR BRANT: Well, your job is to constantly assess.
BRANDT: When you look at people, you start looking at yourself that way. But I’m pretty good about controlling myself. Certain addictions are positive—like my yoga addiction. You want to try to have a balance in life.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Did you always want to be a doctor?
BRANDT: Not always.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Did you want to be an artist?
BRANDT: I wanted more to be a singer. I was always singing. I’m still singing, you know that!
HOLZER: Oh, you should sing for us! [to Seymour Brant] Make him rap for you! Oh, come on.
SEYMOUR BRANT: He doesn’t rap for me—he does show tunes.
HOLZER: He raps for me.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I’m so jealous.
BRANDT: I rap when I leave you messages on the phone, right? I leave a lot of rap messages on the phone. [starts rapping] Jane, you’re not home, are you alone? Why aren’t you answering your telephone? Come on girl, pick up that phone, so I can see what you’re doing home all alone. Are you looking at your art? Or are you merely just trying keep yourself apart from the masses who wanna get on your—
SEYMOUR BRANT: Asses.
BRANDT: Asses . . . Right.
HOLZER: Do Stephanie. Give Stephanie a rap.
BRANDT: [Raps] Stephanie, where are you? I know you’re only 22. I’ve seen you in the magazine, you’re looking really keen. I like that little ad. You don’t look at all very sad. You look like you’re happy to be on that page. You’re creating quite a rage.
SEYMOUR BRANT: All right!
HOLZER: How do you do that?
BRANDT: I don’t know. [rapping] They call me Freestyle Freddy and I’m always ready to rap. Even when I wake up from a nap. Economic devastation’s kinda sweeping the nation. It’s time for us to wake up and get an education. [laughs]
SEYMOUR BRANT: Did you just make that up?
BRANDT: Well, that one I’ve been working on. But I originally made it up in two seconds.
SEYMOUR BRANT: So you wanted to be a singer? Who was your favorite singer?
BRANDT: When I was a little boy, who did I like? God, remember Frankie Avalon and all those people . . . Now it’s so sad. When I hear Christmas songs, no one knows who Teresa Brewer was. You probably don’t know Teresa Brewer either.
HOLZER: I do, unfortunately.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I don’t.
BRANDT: She sang “Ricochet.” Are you too young? [sings] I don’t want a ricochet romance, I don’t want a ricochet love. If you’re careless with your kisses, find another turtledove. I can’t live on ricochet romance, no, no, not me! If you’re gonna ricochet, baby, I’m gonna set you free.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I know Dusty Springfield . . .
BRANDT: Oh, I love Dusty Springfield. I love Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach. I used to see them in concert all the time. Bacharach could never sing, but he’d play the piano for Dionne Warwick.
SEYMOUR BRANT: He co-wrote that great song “What the World Needs Now [Is Love].”
BRANDT: And that song “Walk On By.”
SEYMOUR BRANT: Oh, I love “Walk On By.”
HOLZER: Andy used to play that song all the time!
SEYMOUR BRANT: There’s nothing like music.
BRANDT: Music is the best. I love Stevie Wonder.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I met him once when I was, like, 16 at some nightclub in Los Angeles. The man who introduced us said, “This is Stevie Wonder. This is Stephanie Seymour.” I said, “Oh, hi. It’s so nice to meet you.” And he goes, “Oh, such a beautiful girl.” And I thought, He’s blind!
BRANDT: And you said, “You say that to all the girls.”SEYMOUR BRANT: I did. [laughs] I really did. He said, “No, I could tell by the way your hands felt.”
BRANDT: Well, when you don’t have certain senses your other senses become heightened.
HOLZER: Do you think you have heightened senses?
BRANDT: I think visually, yes. Visually heightened. I have the worst sense of smell.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Were you always into fashion?
BRANDT: When we were little, we weren’t wealthy by any means, but my mom would always buy us nice clothes. It was very important, the way she dressed us.
SEYMOUR BRANT: That is sweet. My mother was like that too.
BRANDT: Yeah. We didn’t have a lot but we always had nice, quality things.
SEYMOUR BRANT: If we couldn’t afford to buy five new outfits for school, my mother would say, “We’ll get one nice thing and we’ll put the rest on layaway.” You know, we’d have pancakes for dinner, and put something on layaway. [laughs]
BRANDT: But that breeds a kind of style that you can’t teach anybody. We won’t mention any names, but you see these people who are so famous, and obviously they’ve been dressed by the best people in the world, but they have no taste. They cannot put themselves together. I think that also goes with visualization—being able to visualize something and see how it would work on you.
SEYMOUR BRANT: You yourself wear something completely different every time I see you. You’re such a clotheshorse. You have a look.
BRANDT: I do have a look! [laughs]
SEYMOUR BRANT: I don’t know anybody else who has that look. That’s your style. And it’s wonderful.
BRANDT: It’s so funny. One of my patients who was just here said, “I don’t know why they don’t use you as a model for Prada or Dolce & Gabbana.” I said, “Well, it could be that all the models are 40 years younger than me!”
SEYMOUR BRANT: Were you always in really good shape?
BRANDT: It’s so funny. I was never heavy, but when I was a boy I used to have a little baby fat on me. And my brother—you know how brothers are—he was older and he goes, “Mom, when’s he gonna lose all the baby fat?” I finally got rid of it at 13. But I think I’m in better shape now than I was in high school. I do yoga and I eat much better. We didn’t know how to eat as kids. I don’t know about you, Jane, but . . .
HOLZER: I ate better as a child than I do now.
BRANDT: When you grow up Jewish, all they wanna do is feed you. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they felt that if you didn’t eat a lot they weren’t being good parents. I remember my famous Ratner’s story. Ratner’s was a dairy restaurant, a Jewish restaurant on the Lower East Side. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I went there and ordered blintzes and I didn’t finish them. Do you know that the waiter came over and fed me the blintzes? He wouldn’t let me leave without eating all of them.
HOLZER: That’s horrible.
SEYMOUR BRANT: But now you’re famous for your healthy eating habits.
BRANDT: People always say, “What’s your secret?” Of course what we do in this office makes a big difference, but it’s your lifestyle that also makes a big difference too.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I’ve seen many a great beauty age unbelievably rapidly. Two years go by and there’s been too much alcohol and it destroys your skin.
BRANDT: It catches up with you sooner or later. It may not be when you’re 22, but by the time you’re 35, 36, 37, you’re paying for it.
SEYMOUR BRANT: When I have a cocktail, I love a vodka and cranberry. But when I was a kid my mother was really against drinking, because it was so bad for your skin. She’d say, “Stephanie, it’s much better to wash your face with vodka.”
BRANDT: I was just doing some reading on skin and alcohol and they show that alcohol, even after you haven’t drunk it for a while, still increases the permeability of your skin, to absorb chemicals.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Is there any way to counteract it?
BRANDT: Well, just stop drinking. [laughs]
SEYMOUR BRANT: [sarcastically] So there’s no cream?
BRANDT: I think you can drink a little, obviously in moderation. It’s the people that, you know, have problems with drinking. Smoking is bad, too—for your skin, for your health, for everything.
SEYMOUR BRANT: It’s amazing how many young people smoke, too.
BRANDT: When you’re young you never think anything is going to happen to you. When you were 17 or 18 did you ever think you were going to be 40?
HOLZER: I never thought I’d see 40.
BRANDT: I remember when I was in college I thought the teaching assistant who was like 30 was ancient. You have no concept of how quickly time goes.
SEYMOUR BRANT: That’s sort of the beauty of being young, but on the other hand . . .
BRANDT: Youth is wasted on the young, isn’t it?
HOLZER: Isn’t it, though?
BRANDT: But you can’t look back. You know what I always say to people who say, “Oh, I wish I were 20 years younger”? I say, “Enjoy your age now, because in 20 years you’ll be wishing you were this age.” You might as well enjoy it at the present time. What I think keeps you young is always having something to look forward to and doing something new.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I think art satisfies that for both of us. I know we both have a passion for modern art.
BRANDT: Yes, I just love to go and look at it—it just makes you feel good. You don’t even have to intellectualize it too much. Everyone says, “Well, what does it mean?” You have to be happy when you look at it or feel good about it . . . It has to bring a smile to your face. I won’t buy anything that doesn’t make me feel good, no matter how great it is.
SEYMOUR BRANT: But there are things that you can’t buy that move you, too. The experience you have when you go to museums like the Louvre or the Met . . . The art isn’t there to be purchased—it’s there to be enjoyed.
BRANDT: Sometimes it’s good to not be able to buy everything, because then it gives you something to look forward to. That’s why you shouldn’t give kids too much—then they have nothing to look forward to. It’s a recipe for disaster. What if you have a daughter and you give her everything and then she marries someone who can’t give her everything? A recipe for disaster.
HOLZER: It screws her up.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Can you imagine, like, having an Hermès bag when you’re, I don’t know, 16?
HOLZER: Unless you’re a model and you earned it.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Totally different. I think it’s completely different if you’re buying it with your own money.
BRANDT: You have nothing to look forward to. What are you going to get when you’re 40?
HOLZER: I didn’t have my first car until I was 40.
SEYMOUR BRANT: You’re kidding.
HOLZER: No. I didn’t own a car.
SEYMOUR BRANT: You had a driver!
BRANDT: I’ll never forget, I used to work in the summer and I never spent a lot of money. When I was younger there was really nothing to spend any money on. It wasn’t like these days. What were you going to spend money on? So I saved up my money when I was in college and for $2,000 I got a brand new Volkswagen bug. I was dying for the bmw 2002. I wanted it so badly, but they were like $2,800 and I couldn’t afford it. But it’s so funny in retrospect. Now I buy a sport coat for that much money. When we were kids, a Cadillac was like $5,000, and if you had one you were rich. You were like, “Oh, my God, they have a Cadillac.”
HOLZER: My parents were not at all like that. I had no clue. We had, like, a Plymouth and a Dodge.
BRANDT: We had a Plymouth, too—a Plymouth Belvedere.
HOLZER: My mother was the opposite of both your mothers. We’d go out to buy a nice dress and then she’d take me to these inexpensive stores and I would be so heartbroken. So the minute I got my trust fund I went straight to Paris.
SEYMOUR BRANT: It’s amazing how huge your personal skin-care line has gotten. I know you did a tour of Asia a few years back and now everywhere I turn, I see your products in high-end stores, and you’re constantly adding more and more . . .
BRANDT: Well, I’m happy about it, and you know now we’re doing the whole repackaging. Now we have a sensitive-skin line and then we’re going to have Flaws No More. Then we have coloration and protection. Then Lineless, of course. And Pores No More is going to be a whole line of products all its own. Then we’re having a new Blemishes No More for acne, which is going to bring in the younger customer. Then a new category called Time Arrest, with platinum technology. That’s a good name.
SEYMOUR BRANT: I love that name: Time Arrest. Do a lot of men use your products, along with women?
BRANDT: It’s a unisex line. I don’t really think there’s a need to have a men’s line. I think a lot of the men’s lines just take the products for women and put them in different containers. It’s all psychological.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Who is your favorite male movie star of all time?
BRANDT: There are so many. In the old days, Robert Taylor. And then there was John Gavin, and Robert Wagner, who was so handsome. I met him recently when I appeared on The View. He’s a super-nice guy and still good looking. But Brad Pitt is still one of my all-time favorites.
SEYMOUR BRANT: Now, what about women?
BRANDT: When you see old movies, there were so many beautiful actresses. Lana Turner and Ava Gardner were beautiful . . . They were all so glamorous.
SEYMOUR BRANT: They made them look glamorous . . .
BRANDT: Well, you never saw them in their dungarees and their gym suits.
SEYMOUR BRANT: It wasn’t about looking like the girl next door.
BRANDT: No, not at all. They always looked fabulous.
HOLZER: Isn’t that always the point? [Everyone laughs and kisses goodbye; Dr. Brandt rushes out to his next appointment.]
To make a pre-appointment or learn more about his services and products, click here for Dr. Brandt’s official Web site.