Every year, for 23 years, the Pantone color chart “color of the year” is announced. In 2021, the New Jersey-based company, publisher of the world’s most referred-to color standards, had chosen a shade of gray, which reflected the mood of a humanity mired in the pandemic. But the gray was lined with a luminous yellow which introduced a little optimism and joy into the surrounding sadness. On the cusp of 2022, Pantone has added to its catalog a periwinkle violet it has dubbed “Very Peri” and which it expects will be at the forefront of trends in 2022.
The periwinkles of Mars
Pantone does not define its color of the year at random. To detect a trend, its researchers explore all sorts of fields and avenues to search for creativity. From advertising, to video games, to the metaverse and all digital arenas, but fashion is the area where color has the strongest impact. “PANTONE 17-3938 Very Peri helps us to embrace the altered landscape of possibilities, opening us up to a new vision as we rewrite our lives,” the label says on its Instagram account. Is it a shade of blue, red, pink, indigo, or all the above?
By questioning this color, we already have the answer: it contains a soothing wave of blue and an energizing ray of red. Pink and purple are the fleeting colors of dawn and dusk. They represent the arrival of a new day. But purple is also the color of the periwinkles we see appearing in March and which herald spring. Therein lies the origin of the name “Very Peri”: purple is the color of beginnings.
Patience and discernment
A shade of purple, a color reserved for the powerful since the Phoenicians mastered its extraction from a seashell and used it to dye fabric, purple gradually became the color of wisdom. Amethyst, a purple-colored stone, is supposed to stop you from getting drunk. In Hinduism, the chakra that relates to consciousness is represented by purple. There is, therefore, a consensus in most cultures to attribute to purple properties of power, justice, discernment and patience.
We will also add that as neither “blue for boys” nor “pink for girls”, purple combines the two most gendered colors of the spectrum to better free them from this restrictive labeling. In the anguished world of ours, we see that this color, both soothing and energizing, has everything to attract us without effort. It responds to an unspoken need.
Fashion did not wait
And because fashion anticipates our desires, purple, in all its shades, has already been present for several months in a number of collections, more precisely since the spring-summer 2022 fashion shows. Moroccan designer Mohamed Benchellal, winner of the FTA Evening dress award 2021, created in collaboration with Galeries Lafayette a Scheherazade inspired air mesh and neoprene dress, with a futuristic turtle neck and royal floor length draping. The Lebanese Salim Azzam, whose shirts and dresses are worn like story-embroidered canvases, dedicates his new collection to the colors of the setting sun on a purple background. Pale purple is also, if we can say, the red thread of the spring summer 2022 collection by the designer duo Azzi & Osta, who see it as a color that is both tender and fresh.
Music and film come to mind at the mere mention of this shade. The three notes of Prince’s “Purple Rain”, for example. When the song was released, Prince explained, “Purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith / God guide you through the purple rain.” We also think of “The Color Purple”, Alice Walker’s heartbreaking novel, a family saga, set against a backdrop of incest, in the cotton plantations of America at the beginning of the 20th century, brought to the cinema by Steven Spielberg with a soundtrack by Quincy Jones.
The title refers to a moment when Shug Avery tells Celie, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” There’s also that old Peter de Rose song that gave its name to the band Deep Purple. It goes, “And as long as my heart will beat, lover we’ll always meet / Here in my deep purple dreams”. But yes, whenever someone says “deep purple”, you can’t help but remember the first ever fives strings you clumsily stroked on an electric guitar and the fabulous evocation of “Smoke on the Water” that brought you the vision of some diluted shade of purple evoking both rebellion and inner peace.