Are you on team colour, team noir or in be­tween? Three women ex­plore their chro­matic lean­ings.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Jac­que­lyn Fran­cis

few months back, I was pre­par­ing to in­ter­view Sander Lak, the cre­ative di­rec­tor of New York­based fash­ion la­bel Sies Mar­jan. My re­search was done and my ques­tions were ready, but then an un­ex­pected bout of panic set in. What was I go­ing to wear that wasn’t black and white?

Be­fore launch­ing Sies Mar­jan, Lak worked with Dries Van Noten, so he un­der­stands how to cre­ate beau­ti­fully made pieces that pop with colour­ful painterly emo­tion. Vogue.com fash­ion writer Maya Singer wrote: “It’s hard to think of a de­signer cur­rently work­ing who’s nervier with his pal­ette.”

Sies Mar­jan wasn’t the only la­bel to show this type of “nerve” for sum­mer. There were hot pink leg­gings at Ba­len­ci­aga and Prince-wor­thy pur­ple sin­glet tops at Alexan­der Wang, but the colour of the sea­son was yel­low. Yes, this shiny, happy hue ap­peared in Valentino gowns, in Her­mès day dresses and even in floor-length evening looks at the nor­mally muted Rick Owens. The Pan­tone Color In­sti­tute dubbed the bright shade Prim­rose Yel­low, a hue that “takes us to a des­ti­na­tion marked by en­thu­si­asm, good cheer and sunny days.”

I’m cheery—at least most days—so why don’t I even think of wear­ing any­thing yel­low? As a teen, I loved wear­ing colour, but over the years my pal­ette has faded. I wasn’t even fully aware of this un­til my six-year-old brought home an as­sign­ment en­ti­tled “5 Things About Mommy” and next to “Favourite Colour” it read “Black.” How did that hap­pen?

I reach out to Michele Bern­hardt, au­thor of Colorstrol­ogy: What Your Birth­day Color Says About You, a book that as­signs colours to every day of the year. She as­sures me that I’m nor­mal. “Our favourite colours of­ten change through­out the years,” she says. Bern­hardt also ex­plains that pow­er­ful peo­ple are of­ten drawn to black be­cause it helps con­tain their power and en­ergy. “It’s like a uni­form and can help with fo­cus and struc­ture,” she says.

Su­san An­der­son, a pro­fes­sor of colour the­ory at Ge­orge Brown Col­lege in Toronto, tells me that our as­so­ci­a­tions with colour are strongly in­flu­enced by our cul­ture, but, she adds, a so­ci­ety’s per­cep­tion of colour can change. For in­stance, black was once as­so­ci­ated with the dress code of Euro­pean im­mi­grant women. Af­ter mod­els and so­cialites em­braced the colour, it was con­sid­ered chic. For some young peo­ple, an all-black ensem­ble was a way to sig­nal a real, or imag­ined, trans­gres­sive life­style. “Even if black is still as­so­ci­ated with el­e­gance and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, it has lost its shock value and be­come main­stream,” she says, adding that peo­ple grav­i­tate to­ward a cer­tain pal­ette be­cause it rep­re­sents how they see them­selves and where they feel the most se­cure.

Hmm…what does my af­fec­tion for dark cloth­ing say about me? It isn’t about power; I sus­pect it’s more about my not tak­ing the time to shop with a sense of ad­ven­ture—shop­ping goes faster when you only wear black. But per­haps it’s time to be a lit­tle nervier. With that in mind, I head to de­signer Jen­nifer Torosian’s Toronto stu­dio, where I pick out a se­ri­ously bright Moun­tie red wrap skirt. On the skirt’s maiden out­ing, one col­league says ap­prov­ingly: “You don’t usu­ally wear red. It looks good!” Two weeks later, I ac­cept an in­vi­ta­tion to meet with a per­sonal shop­per at Top­shop and leave with three great finds: A dark navy romper, black plat­form boots and a black blazer. This colour bar­rier is go­ing to be much harder to break than I thought.

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