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Until I took a design course, I had no idea that Pantone, the authority on color, even existed. I also had no idea that there were shades awarded “Color of the Year,” or that hues were proclaimed “Colors of the Season.” Well, there are such celebrated colors, and the fall ones have been announced, though they’re not the typical fall array you would expect to see. Forget neutrals upon neutrals upon burnt orange; these official colors are bold and saturated, and a couple of pastels snuck in, too. Pantone surveys designers at New York Fashion Week and reports back on the most popular color trends, and they declare these shades the colors of the season. Here are the top Pantone colors for fall 2012.
Pantone explains that the surprising choices are inspired by “fantasy and illusion.” Some of the bright, bold colors look like they would be welcome in a fantasy world. Olympian Blue is a bright, strong blue that I would expect more in the winter, when consumers are looking for pops of color to brighten the gray days. Speaking of fantasy worlds, Olympian Blue could almost be named “Avatar Blue.” Then there’s Pink Flambé, a dark pink that I would have thought would be welcomed in the spring or summer. Ultramarine Green is a deep blue-green or teal that I would love to see on some skinny jeans (maybe it can be this season’s mint).
Bright Chartreuse is a yellow-green that has been popping up as an accent color for a couple of years and is finally having its day. It looks great on silky tops and dresses. Orange was proclaimed the color of the summer, but it’s hanging in for autumn as well. Tangerine Tango is far from the usual burnt oranges seen in the fall; it’s the same bright, retro orange we saw this summer (so you may be able to keep some of those summer pieces going with a few extra layers). Honey Gold is a “burnished yellow,” last seen on my parents’ furniture in their 1970s time warp basement. It looks far better and fresher when not up against the wood paneling at my parents’ place.
One of the only typical fall colors is in the men’s outlook: Rhubarb is a deep maroon and would look very scholarly on a v-neck sweater.
The neutrals for fall are French Roast (a dark brown) and Titanium (a cool gray). Then there are the pastels, which are usually more expected for spring. For women, there is Rose Smoke, a pale pink, and Rhapsody, a “grayed-down purple,” or what I would call lavender. For men, the pastels are Sea Fog, a light gray, and Whitecap Gray, which, despite its name, is off-white. All would be suitable for business attire that you would be able to wear beyond this season.
While the choices seem a little bizarre for autumn, when you think about each shade on a skinny jean paired with a loose sweater, it all makes sense. Titanium would look great in a knit on top of skinny jeans or fitted chinos in any of the other bright colors. One of the keys to the looks on the runways was mixing bright colors in the same outfit – a teal clutch with a red dress, a yellow and purple ensemble, and bright prints were all seen at New York Fashion Week. In the real world, the bright bottoms are typically paired with neutrals or animal prints, so mix and match the new neutrals (and even old neutrals) with these new bright autumn colors.