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.
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.
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