Bold year ahead as purple reigns
I’m seeing purple in clothes, interior design, on cupcakes and in flowers. It’s everywhere. Blame or credit goes to forecasters at the Pantone Color Institute. Each year the consulting firm announces a hue meant to embody emerging trends. This year’s choice is Ultra Violet, specifically Pantone 18-3838.
The firm calls the colour “dramatically provocative and thoughtful” and says it “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.” Enigmatic purples have “long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance,” embodied in musicians such as Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix.
“From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come,” Leatrice Eiseman, the institute’s executive director, says in a media release.
Perhaps this sounds a bit much if you’re just choosing a shade to paint a room or a colour to use for a special event. You might wonder how a colour pronouncement from one firm trickles down to what we wear or how we decorate our home.
But there’s evidence all around us. Many companies adopt Pantone colour advice when they develop and brand products. The results of those decisions influence style choices in everything from interior furnishings to clothing, food and accessories.
The announcement of the 2018 Pantone colour thrilled Stephanie Canada, a local photographer who specializes in family and wedding portraits.
In blogging about it, she joked that she’s ahead of the curve because she chose a similar hue for her business logo. She often incorporates purple into her photography.
“Purple has always been one of my top favourite colours. It gives the feeling of luxury and I wanted to include it in the branding of my business,” Canada says. She even chose a purple top and necklace for her website photo.
Canada started her business in 2011. She feels her purple branding conveys a sense of elegance and permanence. “I want people to have my product in their home; everyone walks away with some printed product, not just a USB that they stick in a junk drawer.”
Colour choices are important in her business. Which colour will people wear for their photograph? On what colour wall will the photograph hang? Will the photo be taken inside or outside?
Canada says the wedding industry is very much based on the Pantone colour of the year; she generally sees that colour play out over a couple of years.
One of her favourite parts of planning a photo session is thinking about colours. When brides or families ask for advice, knowing what’s on trend gives the photographer an edge. But personal preference typically rules because colours and style must reflect the subjects.
“Colour sets the tone for an event. It should be something that truly aligns with someone’s personal taste and values,” Canada says. “Sometimes I have a bride who hasn’t thought too much about the colour combinations and I help with that.”
She offers three tips for choosing colours for events or family photos: the photos.
Think about what you will do with Where will they be displayed? What is the colour palette of your walls and decor? Don’t wear clothes in the photo that clash with its display.
Consider skin tones and colours that work best for you. Canada has pale skin so
she shies away from yellows or pinks. Navy blue works well for her.
and serenity – explaining that the pale pink and light blue are an “antidote to modernday stresses,” and “a reflection on gender equality and fluidity.”
Personal preference dictates whether you wholeheartedly embrace the annual choice or incorporate it into your personal colour palette as just an accent – think scarves, flowers, nail polish, throw pillows. Over the years, the hues have ranged from the natural organic feel of Sand Dollar (2006) to the energy boost of Tangerine Tango (2012) and last year’s spring-fresh Greenery.
Should it matter that one company anoints an “it” hue for 12 months? It may not influence your style, but you will definitely see its impact as designers, graphic artists, publications, hairstylists and the fashion industry work it into everything. Even if the chosen hue isn’t your personal favourite, you can move out of your comfort zone and have some fun with it.
I’m reminded of a movie scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” from 2006. A character played by Anne Hathaway is a fashion rube who takes an assistant’s job at a prestigious fashion magazine. She giggles dismissively, watching a legendary editor played by Meryl Streep discuss the difference between two belts of similar colour.
The room falls silent as the editor educates the youngster on how a specific hue works its way through the fashion eco-system.
Pointing out the assistant’s cheap blue sweater, the editor explains how its colour trickled into mainstream clothing from designer collections.
“What you don’t know is that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean…. That blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when in fact you’re wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room.”
Six years before that scene captivated movie audiences, Pantone introduced its first colour of the year. It was Cerulean.
Rosalyn Canada chose a vibrant purple dress for a spring walk in the woods with her mother. You will see lots of purple in 2018 after the Pantone Color Institute selected Ultra Violet as the colour of the year.