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The 1959 Sleeping Beauty Collection: An Interview with Gabriela Hernandez

 “Little princess, my gift shall be the gift of beauty…”

Just as Flora bestowed upon Princess Aurora the first of three gifts, Bésame Cosmetics has bestowed upon us many gifts with the introduction of its newest collection: The 1959 Sleeping Beauty Collection.

Premiering at this year’s D23 Expo, Disney fans were in for quite a glittering assemblage with the unveiling of the enchanting Collection. A cream rouge locket, a unique color-changing lipstick, a divine royal vanity mirror, and so much more graced Bésame Cosmetics stores on August 23.

Photo from Bésame Cosmetics website

Now my makeup look shall indeed grow in grace and beauty thanks to the talented and versatile Ms. Gabriela Hernandez, founder of Bésame Cosmetics. Ms. Hernandez and I (virtually) walked together and talked together as she was gracious enough to chat with me not only about the magical collection, but also about her wondrous career, her once-upon-a-dream journey into the Disney archives and more…


Hi Ms. Gabriela. Thank you for agreeing to do an interview with us at The Disney Blog.

Absolutely, and thank you! I’m so thrilled!

We are unbelievably excited about the newest collection – the 1959 Sleeping Beauty Collection – but before we chat about it, please tell us a little bit about yourself and about Bésame Cosmetics.

Well, I grew up in a small town in Argentina, and came to the U.S. when I was a girl. I’ve always been fascinated by the past, by history, the cosmetic treasures that covered my grandmother’s vanity and by rituals that have been left behind. I revisit those ideas to see if they have merit and if we can reuse them again! It’s fun to look at things that were once successful and bring back the best from the past. I started Bésame Cosmetics 15 years ago with the idea to bring relevant historical cosmetic products and packaging back into use for new generations to appreciate the beauty and the styles of past decades.

Photo of Ms. Gabriela Hernandez from Facebook

We most certainly do appreciate it! Now, on social media you describe yourself as a Cosmetics Historian. How did you become a cosmetics historian?

Years before I officially started Bésame Cosmetics, I started doing research on historical makeup products because I wanted to recreate some of my grandmother’s heirlooms. In my years of research, I gathered so much information that I wrote a book on the history of makeup and styles through the ages. That book is now in its second edition, and makeup artists now use it as a guide to historical authenticity. I have an extensive library of antique books and cosmetics that I share with our customers in our Burbank store. I also work with many makeup departments in television and motion pictures to advise on accurate period makeup for film. 

What inspired you to collaborate with Disney?

Several Disney executives live near my store in Burbank California, a few years ago now they visited me and asked if I would bring the point of view and attention to detail that I give my own products to Snow White for her 80th Anniversary.  I was honored to be asked to work on Snow White as our first project with Disney. I’ve been a long-time Disney fan myself, and Snow White happens to be one of my favorite princesses. It’s been such a dream collaborating with Disney to work on these classic Disney properties. I always start with the history and what to bring back, what truly inspires me is vintage artwork from these films, development pieces, I reference any marketing artwork I can find from storybooks, coloring books and toys. And finally I visit the Animation Archive to review background paintings, cels and most importantly the ink and paint colors form the original films to create the color palate for the collections.

You mentioned that you collaborated with Disney on the Snow White Collection – you have also collaborated with Disney on the Peter Pan Mermaid Lagoon Collection and others. How do you choose what film will inspire the next collection?

Yes, we’ve done Snow White, Peter Pan Mermaid Lagoon, Mickey Mouse, and now, Sleeping Beauty, so we’re already looking ahead for inspiration! I begin with characters and animation with historical materials available, or with items I can find from the year it was made. The type of animation and also the characters would need to lend themselves to beauty, so it’s not disconnected from a look our customers would enjoy. There needs to be a style that can be translated into a makeup look. I also want to make sure the color palette of the film contains flattering colors! The palette should be wearable as makeup so that the looks you can create will be pretty and functional.

Many fans, including myself, find themselves swooning over the 1959 Sleeping Beauty Collection. What were you most excited about embarking on this project?

So many things, but I would have to say the most exciting would be the artwork. The artwork of this film is so stylized. Eyvind Earle is so iconic and everything about that film was inspired by his hand, so it’s really interesting how that same style was carried from the paintings to the actual character animations. The artwork, the styling, and the elegance comes through in our collection, because that’s what I wanted to highlight. I loved the natural Aurora, free spirited and carefree in the forest, dancing with the animals. That side of her is what I wanted to explore with the makeup looks we created. Simple and pretty, not overly made-up.

You mentioned in the Collection introductory video that Disney invited you into the archives to look at the original cells, colors and props from the film. What was that like?! How long did you spend looking at these treasured items?

It was incredible! Right away when you enter, all your childhood memories flood back into your head, because you see things you remember you’ve seen before. Items that were on rides or props in films, and now they are in the archive collection, so you feel like you’re traveling through time. There’s a sense of awe seeing something up close that so many people have experienced and treasured. I had the privilege of going back many times, and I found myself spending several days looking through everything, not only in the archives but the Disney library as well. These collections can take in all up to 18 months to create and I generally visit several times during the process. Sometimes as little as an hour and other times an entire afternoon reviewing artwork.

Photo from Bésame Cosmetics website

Some articles suggest that the Collection is inspired by Princess Aurora and Maleficent, though there seems to be much more to it than just these iconic characters. I see forest greens, Briar Rose browns and, dare I say, hints of Flora, Fauna and Merriweather. Would you agree with that? What are your favorite colors in the Collection?

Yes, I tried to include all the elements and characters, and I also really wanted to focus on Aurora throughout the whole movie, not just her princess dress, but also as Briar Rose in her cottage in the forest, so that’s a large influence as well. It’s definitely a different take on her than you typically see. There are also elements of the castle in the designs and packaging. The three fairies were represented with a magical color-changing lipstick (Make It Blue Make It Pink)! however, it’s heavily focused on Aurora and her forest. There are many really pretty pastel pinks in the film which translated nicely into the collection. The Locket Cream Rouge color is very flattering and is an example of that. Also, the shimmer highlights in the Briar Rose Blush Palette work very nicely as a compliment to add a subtle rose gold tint to your look.

Do you have a favorite piece in the Collection?

The Royal Vanity Mirror! I spent a lot of time designing this piece so it’s completely original as far as the design. There wasn’t any reference for this piece, so I took more time designing every aspect of it from the enamel colors and placements to the little details on the handle and the shape and cut of the mirror. It has a special place in my heart.

Photo from Bésame Cosmetics website

Can you share with us what other Bésame collaborations we can look forward to in the near future?

Nothing we can share yet… but we have a lot in the works that we are very excited about! If you want to be the first to know, I recommend following us on social media, because we sometimes drop clues and sneak peaks about future projects. As you know, we work from a year to 18 months on some of these collections so we are at work nonstop to create different things for you. As soon as we can begin to reveal those details, we will!

It wouldn’t be an authentic Sleeping-Beauty interview without the million-dollar question: “Make it pink!” or “Make it blue!”?

I would have to say… “Make it PINK!”

The Sleeping Beauty 1959 Collection and individual items are now available for purchase on the Bésame Cosmetics website. You can also follow Bésame Cosmetics on Instagram @besamecosmetics.

Finally, here’s a photo of me waiting on my porch for collection to arrive!