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Pink and Blue: Pantone’s 2016 Colors of the Year Are Trending
By Marcie Cooperman on Dec, 18 2016

Last year, Pantone announced its pick for Color of the Year 2016, and the surprise was that it was actually TWO hues:  pink and blue.  And they were meant to be together.  These hues referred to traditional male/female hues and the social changes occurring between the genders.  Now that a couple of seasons have passed, how are these two hues doing as an influence on actual garment design?

Many designers at first included both hues in their lines, taking the suggestion literally.  As a result, we are seeing an emphasis on both for FW2016-17 and SS2017.  Blue is especially favored in denim.  And pink is a consumer-approved popular trend, its usual standing upped in sophistication by Pantone.  Some designers are using the two together, moving from an initial slavish devotion to the exact pink and blue colors cited by Pantone to an exploration of hue, value and intensity.

In the coat on the left, Alexander McQueen renders the pink to a super low-saturation pastel, as a base for demin blue, green and a slightly hotter pink.  His dress uses sheer demin blue tulle as a base for darker pink elements, lightened by white undergarments. 

Alexander McQueenAlexander McQueen

At Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli, a master in using color, delights in the simultaneous contrast of unexpected hues with pinks.  So many examples to choose from, each offering another brilliant combination.  In the cover image, you wouldn’t necessarily identify these Valentino garments as a story of pink when placed unexpectedly with low intensity yellow, khaki, blue or brown.  And pink doesn’t have to be an obtuse intense color, as Valentino shows in these dresses: 


Black’s achromatic contrast enhances the strength of pink.  From left to right are proportionally more black to less black with the same middle value pink. 


Valentino mitigates the visual strength of pink by placing it with red or a lower intensity pastel red.  The pink coat is saturated, but not as strong as it would be next to green. 


And finally, pink is with blue, balanced well against black, yellow and white.


For Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld interprets pink and blue through different types of hue.  On the left, the dress has more yellow; next to it, the skirt is bluer (placed below a tweed jacket with darker bluish pink and blue pastel); and the pink belt on the denim dress is somewhere in-between.  The last suit’s barely-there pink top softens blue and white stripes. 


Kenzo also expertly plays with intensity and value to render the pink and blue more like neutrals, although not with the two hues together.


Louis Vuitton makes sure to use blue in its strong royal blue suit, mitigated by pink skin showing through the lacy holes. 

Louis VuittonLouis Vuitton

Stella nods to the denim trend with different values and blue hues in her pantsuits.  Note the shoes:  analogous green, and complementary orange.

Stella McCartneyStella McCartney

In the end, you can make any hue sophisticated and lovely by varying its value and intensity.  Skilled color use relies on those three elements of color as the tools of the trade, along with the reliable old R-O-Y-G-B-I-V color relationships.

Later this week we’ll cover the new Pantone color of the Year for 2017: Greenery!