Sunday, 28 February 2010

Why Rouge?

Yesterday I went shopping to buy something red. I didn't quite know what the specific item had to be, but I knew exactly the colour that I wanted; a burnt orange-y vibrant red and I knew that whatever this item of clothing would be (a shirt/ dress/bag/belt?), it would inject some life into my wardrobe. I also had the feeling that a slash of red would be a playful and rebellious challenge to the current 'sorbet' and pastel colours which have dominated my purchases of late. I didnt find anything, perhaps precisely because of the high-street's only selling spring's sorbet shades. Anyway, it didnt matter, but it got me thinking about colour. What is it that makes a certain colour feel 'right' at a certain time of year or for a certain mood? My current obsession with red might have something to do with the recent a/w 10 shows, where splashes of red really resonated on the catwalk, but even if this is the case- who are the people who decide which colours will be 'on trend' and how do these colour choices dictate how we shop and dress from season to season?

A brief foray into the history of colour made me a bit panicky about how little I understand about the whole weird process of how we conceptualise and view colour subjectively. (Can anyone explain Goethe's colour theory to me please?!) I had never even considered analysing sartorial codes and fashion from this scientific perspective, but it surely holds some promise? Pity I am I dont have any scientific grounding to explore this idea in a meaningful way.

On more solid ground, (for me at least), an article by Shinobu Majima in the Textile History journal, stated that the International Commission for Fashion and Textile Colors was established in Paris in 1963. A committee was held biannually before each fashion season. The same year, Pantone started to sell a book of standardised colours. It used computers to sort and numerically match coded colour data and to print out chemical formulae for reproducing the hues. I wonder if this development had more than a commercial results? Did it mark a turning point in our consumption of colour and the way in which it became more integrated into everyday living? Undoubtedly. Has anyone investigated the relationship between 'fashionable colours' (eg. browns and oranges in the 70s) and politics/ social system? Or indeed our subjective and internal relationship with colour in terms of gender, especially in the way in which we dress ourselves? I would be fascinated to know.

Anyway, my quest for rouge continues.

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