Paul Galvin: In the shade
There's more to colour than you might think so open up your palette, says Paul Galvin
Published 03/07/2011 | 23:59
There is a lot I don't understand about fashion. That's why I love it. It's fluid. And it's constantly evolving.
Fashion doesn't exist to be understood. It is hopelessly contradictory. It's anchored to its own past, yet it is futuristic, aspirational and progressive in its essence.
Take colour, for instance -- fashion's make-up. I sometimes wonder why a particular colour becomes the must-have, hot, on-trend, of-the-moment tone for a season, for a week or even for a day.
Who decides that this season's hot colour is honeysuckle? That would be pink to most mortals. An intense pink with hints of red and orange to mortals with more than a passing interest in colours.
Or a vivacious, positive, vital, bold colour with uplifting properties that emboldens and elevates us beyond the stresses and strains of everyday life to mortals who wonder a little too much about colour and its relativity to fashion.
See, fashion -- for all its apparent shallow superficiality -- runs deep. A colour is never just a colour. Words are never just words. The fashion lexicon is no ordinary one.
Colours have many shades and even more names. Cool grey, warm grey, leaden sky grey, sky blue, reflex blue, warm red, cool red, hot pink, shocking pink, burnt orange, lettuce green, turf green... I could go on, but the world-famous colour authority Pantone has just announced 173 new colours and I've only got about 400 words left. I didn't realise we were still inventing colours -- 173 of them, yet black is still the new black! That's fashion for you. Forever contradicting itself.
It was also Pantone which decided the vibrancy of honeysuckle was the colour of spring-summer 2011, and so it was everywhere on catwalks, from Nina Ricci and Jil Sander to Lanvin and Marc Jacobs.
Last year, turquoise was the colour. Escapism, you see. Some people are lucky enough to be paid to think about these things.
Trend analysts spend their time travelling to different countries and continents, absorbing foreign cultures, observing people, consuming social media, listening to and soaking up information in an attempt to tap into public consciousness, to take the public's pulse in an effort to predict moods and trends for fashion houses.
They attempt to understand why a guy in Ireland will wake up one morning and want to wear red trousers for the next month. And then want to wear blue trousers. Or wear no socks. They decide honeysuckle is the colour, or denim is the fabric, or Navajo the print. There are reasons, apparently.
Anna Laub works with online trend analysis site WGSN, and reading between the lines, I think what she does is study people's subconscious. What drives their moods and decision making? What dictates the habits they form, the actions they take?
Sales of red lipstick rocketed during the Second World War as housewives and GI girlfriends attempted to console their loneliness by beautifying themselves.
I attended the Premier Vision trade show in Paris in February, where buyers decide upon fabrics and colours and prints for spring-summer 2012.
Earthy, environmental, natural colours came through very strong.
Climate is always a factor when it comes to colour. Bold colours are more suited to the Mediterranean climate. And the Mediterranean complexion, for that matter.
On pale Irish skin, brights can be draining, so we're naturally a little shy of them. But often it's the very colour you're afraid of that makes you.
I love red at the moment, but it's a certain shade of red. Fire-engine red it's called, I think. With burgundy and blues, for some reason. Any other shade of red doesn't work for me.
There are many ways to incorporate colour into your look. Socks are a great way to do it subtly, as are pocket squares, cravats, vests layered under tees, watches, badges, knee patches and elbow patches.
H&M interprets colour trends from the catwalk and brings them to the high street better than most. As does Topman. Benetton, of course, is the king of colour.
Summer festivals will see lots of neon brights in lipsticks which are really strong. Jessie J and the like know how to run that look. The real story of summer colour in fashion is in the GAA, though. The county jerseys will be out in force. A kaleidoscope of colour.
A very clever friend of mine told me lately that fashion should really look more to the GAA for trends. You've got Kerry, Mayo, Tipperary, Carlow, Clare, Derry.
Colour blocking? We've been colour blocking for 125 years. Take that, fashion.