No doubt you have noticed how different clothing stores have the same color palette for their wares. If you walk from Banana Republic to Uniqlo to Armani Exchange, you will see remarkably different garments at wildly different prices…and yet the colors are all the same (and the opposing colors suit each other beautifully). The effect even stretches to kitchen and home goods stores: so if you are particularly obsessed you can probably match your underwear, your blender, and your divan—as long as you buy them in the same year (and also assuming you buy divans). The reason for this phenomenon is that every year the mughals of fashion, trendiness, and color itself get together and proclaim a color palette for the year.
In practice, international corporations tend to defer to Pantone, a company based in New Jersey for this palette. Every year Pantone (allegedly) convenes a secret quorum of fashionistas, artists, Illuminati, scientists, sorcerers, and what not in an unknown European capital to choose the color which most accurately expresses the zeitgeist of all human endeavor for a year. [When I was imprisoned in the legal industry, a strange coworker who was really “in the scene” during the eighties confided that what all this really means is that a gay man with a sharp eye chooses the palette, Pantone reviews it, and everyone else gets told what colors to use. This sounds quite plausible, but I have no way of verifying the truth of the allegation. Pantone has grown much savvier at marketing nonsense since the eighties…as indeed has everyone except for me, alas].
Anyway, the official color of the year of 2014 is [insert royal fanfare with horns] “Radiant Orchid” an extremely pretty mid-tone purple/lavender. To celebrate, I have illustrated this article with radiant orchid pictures (at least to such an extent my computer’s ever changing screen and my own eyes can replicate the hue). Undoubtedly the other colors you see at shops this year will all perfectly match radiant orchid. Pantone announces the color of the year for free, but if you would like to see the associated palette you will have to order the proprietary information from Pantone View.
As you can probably tell from the tone of this post, I feel that “the color of the year” is a bit silly (not radiant orchid, which I find very fetching, but the concept itself), yet I do like the idea of a unified palette and I like the fact that favorite colors change with the era in accordance to a larger consensus of human taste. Perhaps someday we will all smile with bittersweet nostalgia as we think back on 2014 with its mild lavender in the same way that my parents talk about mustard and avocado or my grandparents talk about baby blue. In the meantime, if purple is your thing you should feel happy, and if not you should start pulling strings right now to influence the mystery color of 2015.