Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Honeysuckle, Tiffany blue and the Devil Wears Prada

Working as a buyer allows me the pleasure of being privvy to certain design industry knowledge. This little tidbit certainly tickles me pink. Sorry IT WAS JUST TOO EASY. Pantone, well know in various design industries such as digital technology, fashion, home, plastics, architecture and contract interiors and paint as a provider of professional color standards has announced that the color of 2011 is (drum roll please) honeysuckle. Anyone in the fashion industry worth their salt owns a PANTONE® MATCHING SYSTEM®, a book of standardized color in fan format.

Its quite simply a standardized format for identifying, selecting, matching and communicationg colors between design communities. Apparently, the colors they choose are often mimicked throughout the design industries after. See previous 'colors of the year' below:
Cerulean blue, at the top of the color pyramid, was famously discussed in the film 'The Devil Wears Prada' in one of my favorite scenes, often cited in debates about whether fashion is important. I managed to find the deliciously snarky exchange between the lovably unfashionable intern Andy and razor sharp fashion editor Miranda Priestly below:
[In the magazine office, Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same]

Miranda: "Something funny?"

Andy: "No. No, no. Nothing's... You know, it's just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I'm still learning about all this stuff and, uh..."

Miranda: "This... stuff'? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select... I don't know... that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. 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. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of......stuff."
Color choices may seem benign and not so important (I too used to adopt Andy's attitude to it, as above), but they are actually a significant part of the fashion industry and branding. Note the famous 'Tiffany blue' shade, linked to the jewellry brand Tiffany & Co., which years of branding and brand consistency have trained into emoting qualities such as 'class', 'love', 'commitment' and 'gift'. It sounds very simple, but is no mean feat when you consider that it is simply a shade of blue. The idea of finding a little blue box in Tiffany blue under a Christmas Tree is often enough to send most women into hysterics. [hint hint Nic! Just joking...].
The 'Tiffany Blue' color, custom made by Pantone with PMS number 1837, is actually copyright protected by Tiffany & Co. And thusly [yes I still maintain that this is a real word] is not printed in the Pantone Color matching swatch book.
Just as the orange color of Hermès branding immediately communicates 'luxury', and the monochrome black and white of Chanel connotes a notion of 'chic', colors will always play a significant part of the industry.
With that, I leave you with the aforementioned Devil Wears Prada clip. Enjoy. (Not sure if it works though, apologies!)