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.

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