If you’ve ever seen “The Devil Wears Prada,” you’ll remember the famous monologue Meryl Streep gives about how color trends trickle down from the experts to the discount heap. What I didn’t know was that it was based on Pantone’s real color trend prediction in 1999, which said cerulean would be the color of the next millenium. Cerulean appeared on the runway in an Oscar de la Renta gown, and the rest was history:
“It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.”
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Pantone. Mostly love, because Pantone has inspired my fashion choices and graphic design palettes before I was even aware of it. The all-knowing trend forecasters at the Pantone wield incredible influence, and no one is quite sure whether Pantone follows the trends, or the trends follow Pantone. They were criticized in one article for being “propaganda.” And maybe it is, but I’d argue that it’s good propaganda (technically fashion magazines are propaganda, but we don’t see many people complaining about getting ideas and inspiration from them). Pantone bases its predictions off research and cultural awareness, and propaganda or not, they’re usually on point.
The first time I ever bought a truly legit nice wallet, I fell in love with a Marc by Marc Jacobs wallet that had the most gorgeous shade of purple I’d ever seen. The sales associate, clearly trying to close the sale, was quick to inform me that the color was Radiant Orchid. For those of you in the know, Radiant Orchid happened to be the Pantone Color of the Year 2014, the same year I was shopping for a wallet. I was instantly hooked. Radiant Orchid was my new favorite color, and it lasted that entire year.
But then the next color of the year was announced– Marsala. And did I hate it. Suddenly my Radiant Orchid wallet, purses, jackets and phone cases were rendered obsolete. In my mind, all anyone had to do was look at the purple color of my bag to see that it was from last season. It was like a red flag, except purple. So I switched to a new favorite color, the pinky brown wine shade that is Marsala. And I don’t even like wine. (Side note: that article calling Pantone “Propaganda” also said that marsala sucked). But I bravely moved on to marsala, determined to stay on-trend.
When 2016 came around, I was ready for my next new favorite color, and Pantone revealed its best shades yet: Rose Quartz and Serenity. Rose Quartz, or “Millennial pink,”and “Tumblr pink,” as I’ve seen it called, is almost pink, but not quite. Which is kind of like me– almost basic, almost a girly girl, almost completely feminine and traditional, but not quite. I’m much more subtle and complex than that, and I’d like to think my closet and my designs reflect this. So naturally I switched to Rose Quartz as my new favorite (which I would’ve done regardless). And it stayed my favorite. To this day it’s still the exact shade used in my resume and portfolio.
So now, here we are at 2017, and it’s time for a new favorite color. Pantone announced that the 2017 Color of the Year is Greenery. And I can’t say I’m as upset about it as I was at Marsala. Because even though green isn’t my favorite color, it feels…I don’t know, needed. It feels fresh and healthy and hopeful, and if there’s one thing this world deserves, it’s a hopeful color. But unlike in the past, I won’t be running out to buy green Marc Jacobs purses or a green laptop case. I will be looking out for it, aware of its presence, adding it into my closet or my designs when it wants to sneak in.
I think I’m just fine sticking with my own favorite color choices for now…
…well, maybe until cerulean makes a comeback.