Vintage glam: Bésame
December 18, 2008
Launched in 2004 by Gabriela Hernandez, the packaging of Bésame cosmetics channels the glamour and femininity not often found in most contemporary makeup lines. I was always drawn to the intricate designs as well as the gold metal casing, but when I actually visited the site I was thrilled to see a wealth of information on the packaging - the inspiration, the concept, and the execution. The company appears to care greatly about how their line is presented and what message they want to communicate via the packaging.
photo from besamecosmetics.com
The packaging is meant to be a replica of original Art Deco cosmetic packaging - the company actually makes its own lipstick molds to create close copies of products from an earlier time. According to the Bésame website, "[there] was a time when the aesthetic beauty of a compact was just as important as designer jewelry worn for a night on the town. The cosmetic products of the day mirrored this aesthetic and were designed to be functional yet glamorous, romantic and feminine...Thoughtfully created with detail and care, every piece is meticulously finished to provide the wearer with the experience of true glamour." I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand I think it's great that the company went to great lengths to recreate early cosmetic packaging. It makes applying makeup much more special when the product comes from a luxe, custom-made tube that isn't usually found in today's market. On the other it almost seems as though the company doesn't recognize that contemporary makeup packaging can be just as luxurious and special as that from an earlier era. Says Hernandez, “The formality of yesteryear no longer exists. I miss the attention to details seen in the past. In creating Bésame, I sought to recapture the sophistication of being a woman that seems to be lost today.” I can't say I agree with her - are contemporary women somehow not as sophisticated because there is a lack of retro packaging? As for attention to detail, I think the Makeup Museum, which celebrates the beauty in cosmetics packaging, shows that cosmetic companies pay close attention to the details in their products' design. And I think there is still a great deal of formality and luxury in makeup packaging, especially in some of the high-end lines. Examples of modern but still incredibly glamourous packaging abound, like Chanel's Rouge Allure lipsticks (there is simply nothing more satisfying than hearing the small click the bullet makes when it's removed from the sleek black case) or Yves Saint Laurent's Rouge Volupte gold-and-logo embossed lipsticks.
Overall though, I'm impressed with the research and effort that went into Bésame products. While I might not agree completely with the CEO's perspective, it's definitely a strong one that fueled the creation of a unique line that allows consumers to experience authentic vintage packaging (without having to actually use decades-old cosmetics!)