#Pantone and the Color Bubble

It’s that time of year once again: Pantone, the arbiter of all things color, has announced their pick for the 2017 Color of the Year. Say hello to Greenery:

Image from Pantone press release

Referring to the shade as “nature’s neutral,” Pantone has obviously decided to highlight a color that plays to the middle of the road, inciting very little in the way of strong opinions and offensive to essentially no one.

It’s a safe color. It’s pretty, in an I-don’t-want-to-admit-I-hate-peridot kind of way. It’s lush, verdant, and full of springlike innocence. It looks good with pink. Legions of Lilly Pulitzer ladies* will rejoice.

But is it what we want? Is it even what we need?

I’ll be honest, I was hoping for something a bit more… bold. After last year’s double-pastel campaign, I felt reasonably certain that the next choice would be something I could sink my teeth into. Some pizzaz, some pop, something worthy of a coming year that’s sure to be full of fireworks. Perhaps, dare I say it, a color that would signify the rising swell of strong emotions in the hearts of millions, encouraging us to keep fighting the good fight.

How disappointing.

Now there is something to be said for the nice concepts that Greenery is intended to represent; as an active environmentalist, I certainly can’t argue with the purported message. But according to Pantone, the Color of the Year is supposed to provide

“A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”

Calming, soothing, spa-like green is decidedly not the mood I’m sensing, at least here in the US and in most of the EU. So, what comforting little bubble is Pantone living in? How do they, as a company and collective body, manage to find a hue so incredibly inoffensive that it actually becomes even more of a statement in its own banality?

The tree of the fashion industry, with its many branches — jewelry, accessories, couture, high and low fashion, etc. — might be in full leaf, but I don’t think that needs to be taken quite to literally. Maybe this color will grow on me, and may bring about some interesting interpretations when blocked with bold black and white, or warmed up with some shiny yellow gold. For now, it feels like a good excuse to take a nap.

Whatever they’re doing to reach that level of Zen, I wouldn’t mind borrowing a dose or two. I might need it this year.


*I confess to wearing a bit of Lilly now and again, but c’mon people. If you don’t live in Hawaii or Key West, how is this color relevant for more than 2 months of the year?

Pantone Says What?!

Well, they’ve done it again. The authority on all things color, Pantone has caused a minor stir in the fashion and design world be releasing a pair of complementary hues for their latest iteration of Color(s) of the Year.

I must have made my mild obsession with color pretty clear, because I’ve already received a handful of messages asking my opinion on the concept (how flattering!). My first thought? “Well, duh.”

That’s not to say I could have predicted the exact colors Pantone would select (unlike some wizards who apparently could), but people have been clamoring for the softer and warmer tones for some time now — you might have heard of the resurgence of rose gold, for example. So I’m totally on board with Quartz.

Serenity, on the other hand, is a tougher sell for me. Not the color itself — my favorite color is blue, after all — but the indication that little miss quartz needs a co-star at all.

Sure, I understand the balanced-genderized-color-tone argument. And the colors swirl together in a very graceful, artistic way, which will be seen as a godsend for the fashion world after the struggles with last year’s color, Marsala. But I would have liked to see Quartz stand alone, to prove that the consumer world can handle a pastel in all its quiet, refined glory.

Nonetheless, prepare thyselves for an even greater influx of all things morganite and moonstone. They’re beautiful, easy to style, and they’re here to stay.


Color Me Wild: An Ode to the Bold and Bright

As a child growing up just outside of Boston, one of my favorite places to visit was the Museum of Science. What kid doesn’t love to watch lightning strike indoors, make music by walking a staircase, or explore the world of prehistoric creatures? But one of my favorite exhibits was on an upper floor down a lesser-known hallway, tucked inside an area designated for learning about the way the human body works. Anatomy and physiology were never my strong suits, but a display dedicated to color, scale, perception, and the human eye-brain function never ceased to amaze me. From optical illusions to swatch-matching, I couldn’t get enough.

(As anecdotal evidence of my passion, I memorized every color in my Crayola crayon box by age 10. How else would an elementary school student know how to spell — and pronounce — cerulean?)

It’s unsurprising, then, that I’ve always had a particular love of color and design. I tormented my own mother after discovering her partial colorblindness (just the color green, strangely enough) but redeemed myself by always helping her select coordinated outfits and even picking the paint color for my parents’ new kitchen.

It follows, then, that the study of colored gems in particular leads to a rather in-depth look at color and a specialized vocabulary not found among the crayons. Fashion and lifestyle brands are now heavily influenced by the renowned Pantone Color Institute, which both maintains accurate and reliable color swatching and attempts to predict (or rather, set) each season’s feature color and palette. This has an interesting side effect: some businesses hop aboard the trendy train, embracing each new color and promoting its use in everything from home decor to nail polish. Others will purposefully split from the popularized palettes, choosing instead to pursue a kind of counter-culture aesthetic instead.

The result of this new focus on color seems to be, primarily, a lot more of it. Wildly color-and-pattern-centric classic brands such as Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer are back in the spotlight, with the latter about to debut its first mass-market collaboration with Target (the brand follows other bright and bold names such as Missoni). While monochromatic styles will likely never be a thing of the past, it does seem that more colorful plumage and the self-expression it brings has moved to the forefront.

Where does this leave me? My little Yankee heart will always have room for the classic, tailored lines of seaside, citified, prep-school standards like khaki and navy. But my lifelong appreciation for color feels right at home in an industry dedicated to the beautiful, creative combination of every color under the sun, so this little dove feels more than ready for some finer — brighter — feathers.