After what seems like a literal year (and actually is probably close to it) of waiting, the first part of the Agent Carter Besame Cosmetics collection has shipped to eager audiences. I personally bought the mysteriously labelled “AC245” within ten minutes of knowing it existed, and after a long, anxious wait, it finally arrived at my front door!
So…what do we get after a year of waiting? Something great…that’s also kind of frustrating.
The mysterious “AC245” is the Field Agent Lip Kit. It arrives in a box, made to look like a brown paper package addressed to our favorite secret agent, Margaret “Peggy” Carter. Inside is a red leather-texture “jewelry box” with her initials, PC, and a fake keyhole. Lifting the lid reveals a letter from Howard Stark, sent along with a signed photograph of himself (stay classy, Stark). The letter clues the reader into the secret compartment in the bottom of the box, containing three lipsticks, and Stark drops heavy snappy one-liners about their secret uses. 102 Sweet Dreams (which appeared in the Agent Carter TV show, although it wasn’t a real product at the time) sends a person to sleep, 103 Forget Me Not causes them to forget the past 12 hours, and 104 Always Be True causes a person to tell the truth. Lifting the secret compartment reveals the three lipsticks, snappily presented in their ridged metal tubes.
The presentation is, in one word, top-notch. The detail of making it look like a real package is lovely, the jewelry box is visually rich, and the letter and photo really help add to the fiction of this being a real package originally intended for Agent Carter. The lipstick tubes are gorgeous, faithful recreations of what we saw on the show, and the colors are rich and vibrant. The only places you can find the MARVEL logo are on the back of the “paper package” and the jewelry box, and on the inside of each tube, so that, when closed, it still looks like part of the fiction. This is a gorgeous piece of presentation, and after solving clues on Besame’s website and receiving cryptic e-mails about Jarvis and packages, it was really fun to order this mystery box. When the mystery box first went on sale, the founder of the Besame Cosmetics company, Gabriela Hernandez, claimed on Instagram that the worth of the box was well more than its $68 price point, and she was right. Not just because the lipsticks alone would add up to $66, meaning that Besame is pretty much eating the cost on the all of the auxiliary presentations aspects of this kit, but because the beauty means that, even more than other Besame products, this is a true display piece. I’ve already put the brown paper package in pride of place on my shelf.
I will say, however that I am a little disappointed in the lip kit. If you check the bottoms of the lipstick tubes, there’s a sticker, and on that sticker, are the real names of the colors in the lipsticks. Which is fine, except they’re all colors that were previously available in Besame’s usual lipstick lineup, just in new packaging. 102 Sweet Dreams is Red Velvet, 103 Forget Me Not is Dusty Rose, and 104 Always Be True is Red Hot Red. I already own tubes of Red Velvet and Dusty Rose, so…yeah, it’s a little disappointing that I spent $68 and surprise! It’s not actually a new product. The jewelry box is also, while visually very nice, not really an actually jewelry box; it’s just a nice box. It’s pretty clearly just cardboard wrapped in a nice presentation paper. Not that unusual for a makeup box, but since we received a clue about “look[ing] for the jewelry box” several months ago via a crossword-puzzle code on the website, I expected something a bit more substantial, more like the vanity mirror that was made for the Snow White collection.
This picture was color-adjusted to make the lipstick tubes look nice; in real life all of these shades are brighter. Besame has swatches of the colors online; I recommend looking those up because the lipsticks are so pretty that I’m having trouble actually using them.
I will caveat that Red Velvet and Dusty Rose are both shades that have appeared on the Agent Carter TV show. Red Velvet is Peggy Carter’s signature shade, and Dusty Rose makes an appearance in season 2. (I couldn’t find any information on whether Red Hot Red had ever appeared.) Answering questions on an Instagram post about Forget Me Not, Besame revealed that Marvel asked Besame to include that shade, which was an interesting tidbit to read. It’s perhaps not surprising that Marvel had ultimate selection power over what was included in this kit, but Besame had a lot of creative power over the Snow White collection. That Marvel is so closely stewarding this Agent Carter collection, well after the show has left the airwaves, is…interesting. (Agent Carter fans, perhaps delusionally, have been wondering if Disney will bring the show back on the Disney streaming platform they’re working on.) I can see how Marvel, seeing how much Besame has profited off being the sole provider of Peggy Carter’s true red shade, might want the collection to reflect the production. It also raises the question of whether other items in this collection will be strictly recreations of what we’ve seen on the show, which would be both intriguing but also limiting, in terms of what beauty products might be put on offer. Some of the strongest pieces in their Snow White collection are the travel bag and scarf, both with a gorgeous apple blossom design unique to that collection. I’m definitely hoping to see not just cosplay-compliant accuracy, but beautiful inspired pieces, going forward in this collection.
Are my quibbles enough to make me want to return this lip kit? Fuck no. It’s beautiful; its presentation and style are really lovely and meaningful to anyone who cares about the show. I really do think this is a rewarding purchase for any Agent Carter fan–as long as you don’t already own all the colors in this kit. It is also, frankly, more cost effective than buying each lipstick separately, so if you’re looking to invest in developing a Besame collection, this is a nice piece to acquire. I know I’ll enjoy taking stylish photos of my other Besame products inside this box.
There’s been rumors of a compact mirror, and I know the Besame brand is looking to reveal a bit more about the collection for Disneyland’s Dapper Day, which is coming up the week of April 23rd (the week Infinity War comes out, which has been implied to be on purpose). I’m looking forward to seeing new products–but in order to put more money down on this collection, they will need to be truly new.
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