Pink isn’t what it used to be

Une ex­po­si­tion pour voir la vie en rose.

Vocable (Anglais) - - Édito Sommaire -

Pink is the new black – tel au­rait pu être le titre de l’ex­po­si­tion or­ga­ni­sée par le musée new-yor­kais de la Fa­shion Ins­ti­tute of Tech­no­lo­gy. L’ex­po­si­tion Pink, vi­sible jus­qu’en jan­vier pro­chain, re­vient sur l’his­toire de cette cou­leur long­temps dé­criée pour la ré­ha­bi­li­ter dans toute sa com­plexi­té. Re­mis au goût du jour par de grandes stars in­ter­na­tio­nales, le rose n’est plus seule­ment as­so­cié aux pou­pées Bar­bie, loin de là...

Pink packs a punch. The once play­ful tint of fra­gile bal­le­ri­nas, Bubble Yum and Ma­li­bu Bar­bie has flexed some muscle of late, ta­king on overtones of so­cio­po­li­ti­cal pro­test, trans­gres­sion and unal­loyed ero­ti­cism. That mes­sage emerges with unex­pec­ted force at the Fa­shion Ins­ti­tute of Tech­no­lo­gy in a mu­seum ex­hi­bi­tion that ex­plores va­ria­tions of a co­lor that has ping-pon­ged across the cen­tu­ries, va­rying in tone from de­mure to bald­ly sub­ver­sive, from clas­sy to tra­shy and back.

2. Pink is a co­lor in tran­si­tion — pret­ty, and pret­ty un­set­tling — in a show that ope­ned in Sep­tem­ber. Its lin­ge­ring kitsch fac­tor has clou­ded its im­pact for sure. “That’s one rea­son people think it’s not se­rious,” said Va­le­rie Steele, the di­rec­tor of the Mu­seum at FIT. Steele, on the other hand, would em­pha­ti­cal­ly urge you to re­think pink.


3. “Real­ly, it’s society that makes co­lor, that de­cides what co­lors are going to mean,” she said, a point rein­for­ced throu­ghout the ex­hi­bi­tion. A mul­ti­di­men­sio­nal hue with wi­de­ly va­rying conno­ta­tions, it is no lon­ger, Steele in­sis­ted, “just gir­lie dumb pink but an­dro­gy­nous, co­ol hip pro­tes­ting pink, an ex­pres­sion of all kinds of more com­pli­ca­ted ideas.”

4. Pink’s trans­gres­sive im­pact, though, has been long in the ma­king. In Wes­tern culture the co­lor, in near-ma­gen­ta and faint, pow­de­ry va­ria­tions, was em­bra­ced by the no­bi­li­ty, its po­pu­la­ri­ty en­han­ced in the late 14th cen­tu­ry when new dyes sour­ced from In­dia and Su­ma­tra made for richer pinks. In the mid1700s, Ma­dame de Pom­pa­dour ren­de­red a more confec­tio­na­ry pink the height of fa­shion: In the portraits of Fran­çois Bou­cher, she mo­dels a suc­ces­sion of sas­si­ly be­rib­bo­ned

shell-pink gowns and ne­gli­gees. Pink du­ring that per­iod was in­ten­ded for both sexes.


5. But by the mid-19th cen­tu­ry, men had lar­ge­ly ce­ded pink to their sisters and wives, any of whom might have worn the coy mid1800s dress show­ca­sed at FIT, a pink silk taf­fe­ta gown, its mul­tiple tiers bor­de­red in an ef­fu­sion of ruffles. Pink, as Steele writes, was per­cei­ved in those days as a pret­ty co­lor ex­pres­sive of de­li­ca­cy and play­ful high spi­rits. But pink al­so sug­ges­ted a se­cond skin. A lin­ge­rie tint with louche un­der­tones, it was ce­le­bra­ted by Théo­phile Gau­tier in his 1850 poem “To a Pink Dress.”

6. Times change and, with them, pink’s pro­file. By the late 19th cen­tu­ry, pink was as com­mon as rag­weed. The in­tro­duc­tion of ani­line dyes that pro­du­ced ul­tra­bright, oc­ca­sio­nal­ly ga­rish va­ria­tions di­mi­ni­shed the co­lor’s pres­tige and ren­de­red it vul­gar, a tint flaun­ted in the no­vels of Emile Zo­la by shop girls and pros­ti­tutes.

7. By the 1960s, pink had ta­ken on a dual per­so­na­li­ty. It was so­phis­ti­ca­ted en­ough for Ja­ckie Ken­ne­dy, who re­cei­ved the French mi­nis­ter An­dré Mal­raux at the White House wea­ring a bon­bon pink eve­ning dress. And it was sexy en­ough for Ma­ri­lyn Mon­roe, who gave pink a ra­cy spin en­ca­sed in a clo­se­fit­ting dia­mond stud­ded pink eve­ning dress in the 1953 film Gent­le­men Pre­fer Blondes. Pink went punk in the 1980s, a par­ti­cu­lar­ly ga­rish shade known as Ul­tra­pink en­li­ve­ning the al­bum co­vers of the Ra­mones and the Sex Pis­tols.


8. A de­cade la­ter, the co­lor as­ser­ted it­self on a glo­bal scale as the fa­shion in­si­gnia of self-pro­clai­med out­liers: Ma­don­na em­bra­ced pink’s bor­del­lo as­so­cia­tions, per­for­ming in 1990 in a soft pink cone-cup­ped bus­tier by Jean Paul Gaul­tier. Pink be­came ubi­qui­tous in Ja­pa­nese girl culture. The cultish co­lor was ta­ken up by Ame­ri­can club craw­lers, the em­blem of cy­ber­goths and ra­vers. More re­cent­ly, it was ap­pro­pria­ted by hip-hop culture.

9. With the years and shif­ting em­pha­sis, pink tur­ned po­li­ti­cal, the in­fa­mous pink tri­angle of the Na­zi era re­pur­po­sed by gay rights ac­ti­vists as a sym­bol of pro­test. Pink was ta­ken up by a new ge­ne­ra­tion of fe­mi­nists as an as­ser­tion of proud wo­man­hood, a trend that rea­ched a cres­cen­do at the 2017 inau­gu­ra­tion when wo­men des­cen­ded on Wa­shing­ton en masse, flaun­ting quaint­ly ho­mes­pun­loo­king pus­sy hats. “In terms of its mea­ning new things, pink has ac­qui­red the cha­ris­ma and com­plexi­ty of black,” Steele said.

(Ja­ckie Mol­loy/The New York Times) (SI­PA) (Wi­ki­me­dia Com­mons)

In­side the ex­hi­bi­tion "Pink" at the Fa­shion Ins­ti­tute of Tech­no­lo­gy. Jus­tin Bie­ber, April 2018. Ma­ri­lyn Mon­roe in a pu­bli­ci­ty shot for Gent­le­men Pre­fer Blondes.

(Ja­ckie Mol­loy/ The New York Times)

In­side the ex­hi­bi­tion "Pink" at the Fa­shion Ins­ti­tute of Tech­no­lo­gy. La­dy Ga­ga at the pre­miere of the film at the Ve­nice Film Fes­ti­val, Au­gust 2018.(SI­PA)

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