After months of self-isolation brought on by the global pandemic, economic upheaval, record-high unemployment and civil unrest in some cities, the promise of spring may hold greater meaning.
Indicative of how millions may be eager to lighten the mood, the spring-summer 2021 New York Fashion Week color palette consists of brightening and soothing shades. Leading the charge is Marigold, followed by Cerulean, Rust, Illuminating and French Blue. The second half of the assortment includes Green Ash, Burnt Coral, Mint, Amethyst Orchid and Raspberry Sorbet. Variations of these colors are expected to crop up in the coming days, when New York designers reveal their collections via drastically scaled-down shows, virtual shows, Zoom presentations, private appointments or however they choose to debut their designs.
Referring to the color choices, the Pantone Color Institute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman said they present the opportunity to have fun with one’s wardrobe and to put together unique combinations. She said, “Here, we’ve got light, mid tone, bright and dark. What it’s playing to is this whole idea of more choices for people. The idea is that they have had so little choice in so many other areas of their lives in the last several months, let’s try to have some fun again. That’s what we’re looking for and fashion gives us that opportunity.”
With millions of people around the world still working from home for the foreseeable future, many WFHers are craving a shot of color and signals of a new season while others are quite content with their quarantine-inspired wardrobe favorites, according to Eiseman. “There are two sectors that will affect not only our interior world but also our clothing. If you have been wearing a lot of gray sweats and some of the other things that people have been wearing, people are really longing to get out and wear some color. We’re already in that process. Others are saying, ‘This is my comfort level. This is what I’m doing every day and I am OK with it.’”
Fashion designers, interior decorators and other creatives have understood the power and mood-altering effects of color for as long as their disciplines have been practiced, but the coronavirus-prompted confinement has enlightened more people to that idea. With many ready for “an instant refresh” — whether that be for the color preferences or wardrobes — the hues you choose can “give you something to look forward to to get your energy level up,” Eiseman said.
Like Rust, Marigold is more commonly associated with autumnal scenes — cornucopia, pumpkin patches and such. The fact that both shades are key for fall speak to the nonseasonal apparel trend that has been in place for few years, Eiseman said. With its warm base, Marigold is a cozy, friendly color, according to the color expert. Khaite, Maara Collective’s Julia Shaw, M.M. La Fleur and other labels have used Marigold.
K2 climbers and other Himalayan mountaineers have raved about the cerulean sky on a crystal clear day at upwards of 28,000 feet. But consumers don’t need to reach such heights to share that level of appreciation, especially after months in lockdown. Steadfast as lovers of the color blue are, they are always in search of a new variation of their preferred blue, Eiseman said.
Victoria Beckham and Meghan Markle are two of the high-profile stylesetters who are unofficial advocates of Rust. The color’s ranking in Pantone’s spring-summer palette was a surprise to Eiseman. In addition to its seasonless appeal, Rust offers a bit of pragmatism in that some consumers may be inclined to dip into their closets to retrieve rust-colored items from seasons past.
Who isn’t appreciative of the promise of a sunny day at this point? Instinctively, this is a color that people are naturally drawn to. The same might be said for plants. This “ultimately joyful color” is not only associated with a cloudless day, but also sunny from a psychological standpoint. Anna Sui used glints of it in her spring-summer 2021 inspiration.
French Blue 18-4140
The late New York Times street photographer made this color his signature look, but more contemporary style arbiters like Kate Middleton have been known to sport French Blue for prime photo-ops. The reality is that people who favor blue are not inclined to stop wearing it, but they do like to update their shades with what they don’t have, Eiseman said. “The human eye is notoriously fickle. Put something new into their line of vision and their eye is drawn to it. Whether they ultimately buy it or not is another point.”
Green Ash 13-0117
However dystopian this name might sound, this is a restorative and regenerative hue. In tune with the the upswing in gardening, hiking and longing for the great outdoors, Green Ash is gaining interest from city dwellers and suburbanites alike. “Even people who live in apartments find themselves hungering for gardens,” Eiseman said. A recent survey showed that more than 55 percent of American adults are tending to gardens or caring for their lawns and 20 percent said that they were likely to head outdoors to accept the green thumb challenge.
Burnt Coral 16-1529
Building off the interest in Coral, a former Pantone Color of the Year, Burnt Coral has a familiarity and comfort level, Eiseman said. Given that, some people feel that wearing Burnt Coral can be like wrapping themselves in a warm blanket, she added. Burnt Coral also represents the preservation of the coral reef, which has been of increasing concern along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and other areas. Acknowledging how consumers’ interest in coral seems to be holding on, she said some may choose to wear coral garments purchased a few seasons ago or to update with this new variation.
As its name suggests, Mint is the quintessential refreshing shade. “When we hear the word, we automatically associate it with the taste of mint. It is a cleansing color. Cleansing is a really important word. Who today doesn’t respond to the word cleansing?” Eiseman said. “Colors like Mint, Green Ash, French Blue and Cerulean play well to the whole concept of cleansing.”
Amethyst Orchid 17-3628
Unquestionably a unique combination, Amethyst Orchid offers a dose of originality to the spring-summer palette. Amethyst conjures up images of a “big, beautiful sparking stone,” whereas Orchid offers an exotic undertone with a new dash of purple, Eiseman said. “A great addition” to the spring-summer lineup, she said Amethyst Orchid, like Cerulean, “adds a bit of sophistication.” Apple Watch owners may recognize Mint, Amethyst Orchid and Raspberry Sorbet as the illuminated rings on their watches. Chalking that up to merely a “happy connection,” Eiseman said, “Apple people are really on top of what’s happening in the world of color.”
Raspberry Sorbet 18-2043
Reminiscent of the pastel packaging for Kylie Skin by Kylie Jenner, Raspberry Sorbet is a surprisingly versatile color. Raspberry Sorbet is dualistic in that it has both cooling and warm properties. This all-encompassing color also hints at how a little indulgence is well-earned post-lockdown. Comfort food offered a little relief for some while quarantining and spring colors like this one can have a similar effect.
The Pantone Color Institute also has delivered its five core colors for spring-summer 2021:
Spring-Summer 2021 Core Classics
This deep resonant blackened blue is always a favorite in spring and summer, Eiseman said. Solid and very intense, this anchoring color can be used as a great background color, she added.
Ultimate Gray 17-5104
Quietly assuring, Ultimate Gray is practical in every direction – all of the spring-summer 2021 selections work with gray.
The pandemic set off what might be described as a worldwide bake-off followed by the sourdough bread backlash. But Buttercream offers a warmer dimension. Although white is a given in spring and summer, Buttercream is not a pure white.
Desert Mist 14-1127
The color of shifting sands, Desert Mist blends well with cooler and warm colors.
Another indicator of the public’s need for nature, Willow and other greens have been gaining traction in recent seasons. “There’s hardly anything you can do wrong with anything that is green today. There is now more significance because people are longing to escape into the greens even if it’s just Central Park to take a walk and look at some of the greenery that is there.”