The Fashion world is showering springtime shoppers with two distinct colour palettes this season: juicy, fruity brights that are eye-popping and peppy, or natural neutrals that aim to tap into our eco-consciousness and worldly tastes.
There is no mushy middle, though, with nary a dusty pink in sight.
The fashion world is hoping that the infusion of lively colours will help bring consumers out of their winter doldrums and into stores.
“There is a true psychology to wearing colour,” says InStyle fashion director Hal Rubenstein. “It really can change your mood. … Not to be too Pollyanna, if you wear something that’s mood brightening, it could have an effect on the people around you. It can enhance your environment.”
After that initial jolt, shoppers will be offered the more soothing shades of sand and ecru as the weather warms.
When he unveiled his candy-coloured spring collection on the runway, Michael Kors explained that his prescription for a population fretting over the war, the economy and the election was to put them in something “delicious.”
But Francisco Costa, designer at Calvin Klein, made the case for serenity, taking his inspiration from sombre Dutch painter Wim Schuhmacher and the Hutterites of Montana, who lead a very sparse existence.
“Fashion always braces extremes and counterpoints,” says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. “The newness is the shocking hues and the neutrals, and I think it’s the combination of the two that look extremely sophisticated.”
Andrews’ choice as the No. 1 shade for the season is a vibrant yellow. It works well on its own, in a print — either a trend-right pop-art geometric or painterly floral — or in a colourblocking pattern.
Other favourites are bright cobalt and a pink that he nicknamed “highlighter pink.” He describes it as “less purple than magenta and deeper than hot pink.”
Designer Lisa Perry has made saturated colours her trademark. On the day of a recent interview and photo shoot she wore a colourblocked shift dress with diagonal swaths of turquoise, green and royal blue.
Yes, she is extreme in her colour choices, Perry says, but she doubts people who claim they can’t wear brights have ever tried them. There is a colour out there for each person, she promises.
Her advice to colour novices is to start out with turquoise, among the most flattering shades of the colour wheel for all skin types. From there, progress to yellow and then pink.
Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale’s fashion director, has already worn her new pink dress by Perry. “Everytime I wear it, I feel 10 years younger. I never receive more compliments than when I wear this dress.”
She was drawn to the hue for the same reasons as everyone else. “It’s something I haven’t owned in a while and brights make us happy. … You probably own enough black. If you’re looking at the perfect yellow dress in front of you, you should buy it.”
Solomon is talking mostly about knee-length or shorter dresses — or maybe a simple cardigan, handbag or shoe. Anything more than that can overwhelm some women because then the garment, not you, is making the fashion statement, she says.
Men also are embracing colour like they never have before, according to American Eagle chief design officer LeAnn Nealz. “They not only welcome it in polos and T-shirts, but woven shirts and knit underwear as well.”