Move over, millennial pink – the shade’s grown-up sibling has a renewed hold on our affections
According to experts, 2018 is the year of purple. Pantone chose ‘Ultra Violet’ as its colour of the year, with trend forecasting firm WGSN noting that it fed into a renewed interest in maximalist fashions, as well as the desire for self-expression and escapism. What neither firm mentioned, however, was that violet’s rise was foretold some 140 years ago by another group who had selfexpression and the future on their minds: the Impressionists.
While an early fan conceded that the Impressionists’ work did ‘almost always proceed from a violet and bluish range’, others were less kind. Some argued that they must suffer from a disease, which they dubbed ‘violettomania’. Others thought that their preference was a consequence of painting outside, the result of permanent damage to the artists’ eyes after spending too much time in the sun. The art critic Alfred de Lostalot, in a dismissive review of one of Monet’s shows, wrote that ‘he and his friends see purple, the crowd sees otherwise; hence the disagreement’. The Impressionists themselves, however, were unrepentant in their ardour for this shade. In 1881, Edouard Manet announced that he’d discovered the true colour of the atmosphere: ‘It is violet. Fresh air is violet. Three years from now, the whole world will work in violet.’
If you share Manet’s enthusiasm, now is a good time to indulge – the publicity generated by Pantone and WGSN has propelled this hue into the spotlight. As you might expect, the queen of colour, India Mahdavi, includes it in her repertoire – Chez Nina, the private club she designed for Galleria Nilufar earlier this year, sees violet mixed with red and black in mid-century shapes. For a softer take, look at Designers Guild’s ‘Savoie’ wallpaper in ‘Fuchsia’, which segues from white, through violet to magenta (£225 per roll; designersguild.com). It’s a painterly take on the trend. Lostalot might not have approved; Manet, however, almost certainly would.