Ordinarily, we wouldn’t let Dennis Rodman – already covered in this series – take attention away from the gorgeous and talented Toni Braxton and her perfect fake Cartier Panthère. But there’s no good photo (please alert us if you know of one) of Toni Braxton and her best replica Cartier that doesn’t also feature Dennis Rodman. The larger issue: If we’re going to cover this decade right we’ve got to sort of put Rodman everywhere, because that’s just how it was back then. (Braxton and Rodman, pictured here at a Maverick Records party, went to the 1996 VMAs together but did not actually date, though she did admit to thinking he was “kinda hot.”)
Braxton was at least as good at singing as Rodman was at rebounding. Songs like “Unbreak My Heart,” “Breathe Again,” and “Seven Whole Days” helped me and millions of women get through our 20s and are some of the greatest tracks of this era – and indeed the entire history of R&B. Yet after her tremendous success with chart-topping singles, Grammys, and American Music Awards, came endless lawsuits with record companies, a lupus diagnosis, a painful divorce, and more lawsuits.
The 1:1 replica Cartier Panthère debuted in 1983, and was a coveted celebrity watch from the ’80s into the ’90s. I think of Braxton buying it, wanting something nice, not too expensive as her money was still tied up with management, but still utterly satisfying in its luxury and ability to telegraph success, and realizing that the high quality fake Cartier Panthère fit her situation perfectly. She had something of a comeback in Broadway shows like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, and appeared on Dancing With the Stars, and continued to make music. Like Rodman, she has done her share of reality television, more wholesome and family-oriented than the rehab genre he worked in.
Braxton was one of a kind. She deserved better. It brings me joy to see her on this September night in 1996, with “Unbreak My Heart” headed to the top of the charts, Dennis Rodman at her side, and this classic AAA fake Cartier UK on her wrist, looking certain that only good things were ahead of her.