Thinking about Colour
Trends come and go; we look at them, discuss them and analyse them. Sometimes we are spot on and sometimes, well let’s just say it didn’t work out the way we had hoped or planned it. Trends can also surprise us; and that’s the situation right now with colour.
We have a series of colour stories which are very strong, very right for the times and yet have emerged rather than resulting from predictions.
So, let’s discuss them.
There’s nothing new here and nothing difficult but the key is to their longevity, their strength across the range of clothing, designers, market levels, seasons and years. How they are so versatile; exactly like nature, suiting many variations and usages, from millinery to footwear. Major current concerns on ecological, ethical, environmental, sustainable and many other issues, and their related key words, link to nature and its colours, so the symbiosis is “natural”!
This season the richer, more acid and deep greens are making a play for supremacy in the green story, but also the blue-greens are important. Poison greens, yellow based greens and greens used in shimmer, glitter and sheen, but not always full on sparkle, seem to find great favour with high end designers. Soft fluid and draped surfaces really work well with this green story. Note also that sharp lime has become a “classic” accent colour.
There has been no change here except that navy in menswear really has established itself as the go to for spring/summer over black. Blue in every variation from light soft sky blues through to azure, oceanic blues, aqua and deep thundery blues are all to be found somewhere. These shades also work well for prints, especially of the abstract kind.
Once heralded as a “fashion” colour and also mentioned as “difficult”, yellow has remained in fashion, but now in a much bigger spectrum of shades. The palest lemon zest with a lot of white in the shade, through to soft jonquil tones and on to dense ochre and egg yolk shades, are all to be seen carrying on in the colour palette
Again, this has remained a favourite accent addition or shock flash of colour. Although the colour of fruit and the sun, it’s often used in a very urban way. Dense orange with a real zing to it seems to be the favourite shade with designers at all levels.
Leading on from orange these fruity shades are gathering momentum and are very popular in softer as well as brighter tones. This colour group is historically very commercial and is a great update on the pink colour range. The depth and strength of this colour group can go from pale and pretty to deep and shocking, which is great for different end uses and clients.
African violet, pale wisteria, lilac, parma violet, mauve, and any other floral references you wish to make, again cover the spectrum from barely tinted pale to dense and velvety dark. Tone on tone is also popular with this colour group, where the shades sit extremely well together.
Red & Pink
Two great floral colours, however both tricky. The wrong red is a disaster, so select true clear reds very carefully. Many skin tones and red often make a terrible combination. Pink can also be a surprisingly flat colour, or in the case of shocking pink, unflattering in huge blocks. Very pale pinks can look washed out, especially in budget fabrics, and again skin tones and pink can be a washout. It may look great on the catwalk when the palest shell pink wafts by, or an amazing floor length gown in Schiaparelli pink, but it’s more difficult to pull off in real life
Never disappearing, never out of fashion, menswear is especially looking to these two shades to add to the menswear palette. Indeed, a strong colour for men is still innovative, or daring, amongst many men, so red with its military history is a safe bet, and pink as a witty shock, accent or extra, is a challenge.
What a platitude; “black is back”, “black is the new black” and so on but black is strong again, interestingly often for summer or lightweight fabrics. There are three key black colour stories.
Black for basics – why try and be too clever or search desperately for an alternative when for the basics in fashion, black is often the first colour customers buy. That being said- use black for simple basics.
Black for elegance and tailoring. Elegance is a revived word in fashion, and it can be used for streetstyle or sportswear, it doesn’t have to look retro, old fashioned or dull. New ways with elegance and the use of tailoring update these stories and provides designers and retailers with a chance to expand options.
Black texture. Ruffles, tulle, leather, tweed, satin, suiting and so many other textures both in the fabric and in the construction makes black work in many ways.
What is undeniable is that this season and going forward a kind of 1970’s palette is big when it comes to fashion terms. Biscuit, ecru, buff, beige, fudge, caramel, camel, café au lair, mocha, chocolate and all the other food-based shades of the brown colour group have become news when talking fashion trends; after which we will need a bit of colour, don’t you agree?
Words and Images by Tony Glenville