Once again it is time to talk about contemporary color trends! I am of course talking about Pantone’s “Color of the Year” proclamation, a transparent (yet important) marketing event in which the great taste-makers announce the dominant color palette for next year’s clothes and consumer goods. Last year, Ferrebeekeeper was quick off the mark to comment on “Marsala” an attractive 1970’s chicken-liver color. The color for 2016 was announced only yesterday. Thanks to our sharp-eyed friend, Beatrix, for pointing out that the pronouncement had been made throughout the land! [Thanks also to Beatrix for noticing that my blue gray bird art is ahead of the fashion curve…at least in terms of color]


This year Pantone is taking two bites of the great pastel ice cream cone by announcing an unprecedented TWO colors: “Rose Quartz” and “Serenity” a pale grayish pink and a pale grayish blue. This pink/blue dichotomy seems deliberately gendered, and, despite Pantone’s strident assurances that such is not the case, one instantly intuits that Rose Quartz was too “feminine” and Serenity was too bland to escape from committee on their own.


Naturally, Pantone explains the choices differently. The Wall Street Journal reported on the spin coming from company:

“We wanted compassion, which today a lot of people are looking for,” [Leatrice] Eiseman says. Pantone’s news release describes the colors as “inducing feelings of stability, constancy, comfort and relaxation,” and argues that they “create balance in a chaotic world.”

Pantone also emphasized how ideal the colors are for wearable technology…although since that sort of equipment has not really made it off of the battlefield and on to main street, I have some doubts (unless the armed forces are changing their color palette too).


To my eye, the colors have some pizzazz–so long as they are next to each other. As a team they evoke the blue and pink combination which Western painters have long used for the Virgin Mary, but somewhat less vibrant and more conservative–like a Fra Angelica painting which has faded and needs a hand from professional art-restorers.


Adoration of the Magi (Fra Angelica, 1434, tempera on panel)

Pantone walks a fine line between choosing colors which are too bold and colors which are too dull.  There is a quick test for this: would McCarthy throw you in prison for wearing a shirt that color? This year the answer is “probably not.” It is an ominous answer. Years with vibrant colors tend to be good years (economically speaking) whereas years with button-down 50s colors underperform…or worse! Indeed “Serenity” bares an ominous trace of 2008’s beautiful “Blue Iris.” However economists rightly note that the Pantone benchmark is not necessarily born out by broader financial metrics and, indeed, seems like something I made up right now on the spot so I would have something controversial and noteworthy to write about.


Only time will tell, but I for one am pulling all of my money out the markets…or I would if I had any money…Sadly I lost my “Blue Iris” shirt in 2008 and never got it back. If the “Color of the Year” is to be believed, 2015 was the froth and 2016 will be the harrowing.