Red Velvet lipstick – A modern twist

Raven Brookes Red Velvet

When you think of vintage glamour, particularly of the 1940’s, you think of the glamorous movie star icons of the day, from Joan Crawford to Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall and many more besides. But the 1940’s, particularly the wartime era, saw a revolution in the workplace for women, who needed to take on new roles, new jobs and a new psychology as “working women” more than capable of doing men’s jobs.

Fashions changed, largely to respond to the practicalities of military uniforms, factory wear and gruelling manual jobs on the land. The fashion for trousers continued to develop, a fashion which began in the 1930’s with quaintly named “beach pyjamas”. Many women looked also to their military husbands’ and family members’ wardrobes which contained practical, albeit limited, clothing in the form of trousers and jackets, and even hats, that resource starved civilians saw the recycling potential of.

And so the 1940’s prove to be an era also heavily associated with a more masculine silhouette in clothing for many women.

Here at Bésame Cosmetics, we celebrate the glamour of the classic beauty of bygone eras, but it by no means follows that we have any particular kind of woman in mind that modern women should aspire to. In the 21st century, we can draw inspiration from the past and make it relevant to present and the future. In seventy years, women’s lives have transformed from their distant grandmothers’ and great-grandmothers and so too have fashions for women.

When we planned our Agent Carter  inspired photoshoot with model Raven Brookes for our Vintage Nostalgia Show and Goodwood Revival campaigns, we decided to take Raven through a metamorphis from 1946 to 2015, gradually unravelling the clothing and slightly changing the hair. The makeup remained exactly the same, including the iconic Red Velvet lipstick (1946) . The result was stunning.

Raven Brookes Red Velvet

Raven Brookes Red Velvet photoshoot. Photo by Scott Chalmers

There is often much justified complaint about the beauty and cosmetics industry that the images brands portray are unrealistic, unobtainable and restricted to a very limited kind of young, sexually available, heterosexual woman that supposedly is the ideal every woman should aspire to. The indignation of lesbians, bisexual and transgender women about these images also give rise to a fear that the alternative might be to simply see the industry stereotype minorities, and attribute a faux lesbian chic to modern fashion photography that can often be bordering on the soft pornographic.

All women want and deserve a diversity of imagery in the public sphere. Vintage glamour does not sit in a cosy backward looking category that itself excludes the majority of women. By showing that Bésame Cosmetics has no fear of celebrating diversity in its imagery which is as authentic and political as it is fun and glamorous, we are making some small steps in showing there is much about Bésame that is at odds with the mainstream cosmetics industry, and that includes our philosophy, our ethics, our products and of course our images.

Please share your thoughts and comments on this feature in the space below.

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4 thoughts on “Red Velvet lipstick – A modern twist

  1. I love both of these photos! And it’s so nice to see a cosmetics company celebrating diversity on their website and considering the issues surrounding the portrayal of women in make-up shoots. Convinced me to buy the Peggy Carter lipstick :))

    • Thanks Liz, we’ll have several more images from this photoshoot to release over the coming months, and we will keep doing our best to be true to ourselves :-)

  2. When I saw Besame cosmetics, instantly it reminded me of my grandmother. Sadly, I never got to know her because she passed away when I was very young, but two of the personal items she owned and was passed onto me, was a beautiful pressed powder compact that is just so beautiful and elegant and a tube of red lipstick. Red Velvet and the tube itself look so similar. Thank you for creating something that allows me to think of my grandmother in a lovely way.

    • Hello Aileen,
      Thankyou for taking the time to share your thoughts and memories. Gabriela Hernandez does an amazing job of getting her products just right so that they are as close to the originals as possible. Your grandmother would recognise many of the products and colours I’m sure.

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