Pantone Ranks Leading 10 Fall Colors for a Pre-Fashion Week Forecast

The global psyche is increasingly all about inclusivity, so why not for fall colors, too?

That kind of all-are-welcome approach is central to Pantone’s Fashion Color Trend Fall 2018 Report, released by the X-Rite-owned Pantone LLC. Building off its gender-neutral take on fashion colors, the Pantone Color Institute has culled a Top 10 list that plays up seasonless shades, including a few that are far from wintry. Designers and consumers are pedaling away from cyclical trends in favor of more self-expressive, nontraditional choices, according to Pantone Color Institute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman.

Leading this fall’s Top 10 list are Red Pear, Valiant Poppy and Nebulas Blue, followed by Ceylon Yellow, Martini Olive, Russet Orange and Ultra Violet. Ranking eighth through tenth are Crocus Petal, Limelight and Quetzal Green. Save for the autumnal-inspired Red Pear and Russet Orange, most of these shades don’t conjure up images of afternoons raking leaves in the yard.

From Eiseman’s authoritative viewpoint, people are more willing to turn over a new leaf when it comes to color. While colorists, designers and editors might be aware of how subtle nuances in color can be found by using different fabrics and textures, the average consumer is now becoming more fascinated by that. New fabrics like Piñatex, which is made of pineapple leaves, and suede-like looks made from mushrooms, as well as 3-D printing, are boosting that interest. Other factors like sustainability, conscientious consumption, the wellness movement, the continued food industry boom and ath-leisure’s dominance are also in play. “There is no question that this whole overarching feeling is definitely having an effect on fashion as well,” Eiseman said. “We’re being more experimental because so much of it is new. There is this fascination that people will try the newness because it’s good for you. It’s good for the planet. It’s good for us.”

In light of female musicians at the Grammys’ decision to carry white roses and actresses at the Golden Globes standing together in black gowns, Eiseman noted the suffragettes used color as a sign of solidarity years ago (all three of their choices — white, purple and green — cropped up on the fall Top 10 list).

Speaking in more general terms about the use of color as a sign of protest or unity, she said, “What it does is to build an awareness to people as to what psychology lies behind color. That color is not just something to look at and admire but also that it can be an expression of one’s self. Certainly, the whole idea of the psychology of color has really come more into the mainstream. It’s made people more thoughtful about color, and how it can represent your emotions or feelings of perhaps wanting to belong to a particular group.” Eiseman said. “Women wearing black at the Golden Globes was definitely a statement. This was really expressing empowerment and solidarity as far as women were concerned for the #MeToo movement. This was really one of the most significant things we’ve ever seen because millions of people watch those awards shows.”

1. Red Pear
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Grammy watchers will recognize this hue from the Zac Posen princess-y gown that Miley Cyrus wore for her duet with Sir Elton John at last month’s awards. “To me, what’s most fascinating is that you have two variations of almost every color family. There is this deeper red and then you’ve got the Valiant Poppy which is that really outgoing effusive nature of red. You could look at this as if it is an extension of the last season where we also had red included,” Eiseman said. “Designers are enabling consumers to look at it and say, ‘OK, here’s a slightly different red and I could wear this with the red leather boots that I bought last year or something else that I have in my closet.’”

2. Valiant Poppy
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As the name suggests, this is one of the brightest of all reds with a dynamic punch. Eiseman added, “From psychological terms, that’s a very brave and outgoing color. That is a real attention getter. If you chose to use some of the deeper tones as accessories or surrounding pieces, but then you have this red poppy, that’s a real attention-getter. It goes back to this whole idea of being an individual in your choice of clothing and using a bit more ingenuity and a little more creativity.”

3. Nebulas Blue
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Whether the number-three shade’s popularity stems from the public’s curiosity about all things Arctic, the seldom-seen Super Blue Blood Moon or a longing for blue-skies ahead is anyone’s guess. Xuan’s Xuan Ngu-Thuyen got a jump on the trend showing an unfettered gown cascading with tiers of tulle and silk at the most recent round of couture shows. Reminiscent of a twilight blue, and not as deep as a navy blue with more brightness, this shade shows that consumers have a love affair with blue that never seems to go away, according to Eiseman. Designers are savvy enough to think, “Why not take advantage of that if we want people to buy our clothing?”

4. Ceylon Yellow
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As last season’s number-one ranked Meadowlark can attest, no one is ignored while wearing yellow. “Yellow has been climbing in the past few seasons. In this particular palette, we see two variations of the yellow. This spicy yellow with an exotic touch is always going to be fabulously sophisticated, when used with any of the other leading fall colors,” Eiseman said, adding that it pairs well with Ultra Violet or Crocus Petal as a “really creative statement.”

5. Martini Olive
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Three martini lunches are long gone, but cube dwellers, outdoor enthusiasts and Silicon Valley leaders are all-in with this understated, versatile, sophisticated neutral. Nike Air VaporMax recently got an olive overhaul. Martini Olive green is more nuanced than the olive bomber jackets worn by Gigi Hadid, Melania Trump, A$AP Rocky and Scott Disick. David Beckham turned up at last month’s Louis Vuitton show wearing an olive-colored coat and scored extra points for his Sargasso Sea pants and crewneck. “This kind of a green really has a great grounding influence on so many other colors. It’s also different,” Eiseman said. “You’re not using black or deep navy but a color that is really fascinating when you combine it with other colors in the palette whether it be the blue, the red, the orange.”

6. Russet Orange
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“Lady Bird” actress Saoirse Ronan wore a Cushnie Et Ochs cutout dress in this color at Monday’s Oscar nominees luncheon in Los Angeles. But you don’t have to be 23 to get away with wearing this shade. Last month in Paris showgoers saw traces of this tough-to-miss color at Clare Waight Keller’s couture debut at Givenchy, as well as at Hyun Mi Nielsen and RVDK/Ronald van der Kemp. Their decision to use it more as accents is in line with Pantone’s outlook. Eiseman said, “While not unexpected in an autumn palette, it’s more about what you’re using with it that will make the difference,” adding that Crous Petal is on of the more creative options.

7. Ultra Violet
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More than a simple, bright or primary color, this purple has some staying power as Pantone’s Color of the Year. At Justin Timberlake’s halftime show at Sunday’s Super Bowl, the crowd was doused in purple light during his tribute to Prince. Actress Lupita Nyong’o wore an ultra violet Versace gown on the purple carpet at last week’s “Black Panther” premiere. And Democrats wore purple ribbons to last week’s State of the Union to raise awareness of America’s opiod epidemic. But Eiseman emphasized how purple is associated with artists and performers like David Bowie. “I do think the time had come for purple because ultraviolet, the color of the year, is a color of complexity and we live in complex times. From a historical psychological standpoint, I think we really hit the nail on the head,” she said.

8. Crocus Petal
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Refined, subtle and airy, this pastel has already been used by designer labels like Armani Privé. Salvatore Ferragamo and Rodarte. Men and women are a fan of this soft shade, as evidenced by Stan Smith rehearsing recently in a lilac shirt and sweater. “Years ago there used to be the onus that anything in the lavender family was too girly…There is just this broader acceptance today, particularly with ath-leisurewear. Younger generations just don’t have prejudices about lavenders and pinks that grandpa did. Lavender, like pink, can be a great color next to a man’s skin. Men don’t have all the great aids that women have — the makeup, lipstick and eye shadow to enhance their looks,” Eiseman said.

9. Limelight
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Animation come in many forms, as this “Pow” kind of color shows. Gal Gadot wore a body-hugging gown in this yellow at last month’s Palm Springs Film Festival. This effervescent hue isn’t just a DC Comics or Marvel-worthy tone — its ranking on a winter palette is an achievement in itself. Snowboarders, skiers and winter sports fans have helped to spur it on by choosing sunglasses with lenses in this color. “It’s just that exciting shade that has captured people’s attention,” Eiseman said. “From a historical perspective, yellowish greens or greenish yellows are a little slower to catch on — 10 percent of people want to latch onto immediate trends and then it kind of trickles down. It’s just one of those colors people have fun with and are definitely embracing.”

10. Quetzal Green
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Prince Harry’s bride-to-be Meghan Markle literally introduced the world to the magnetism of this color, thanks to the Parosh dress she wore when they announced their engagement in Kensington Palace’s Princess Diana memorial garden. But Pantone has visions of birds of a different color, naming this green for the peacock-like bird known for its vibrant plumage. Eiseman said,”It’s hard to make a mistake with blue greens because they are so versatile and they look so good with so many other colors. It’s a color that is always a smart choice as far as designers are concerned.”

Not to overlook more neutral shades that more conservative dressers favor, Pantone has created a classic fall palette. This time around there are five colors instead of four. Eiseman explained, “When you move into the classic colors, we know that classics don’t change all that much. Yet we will see or expect a preponderance of certain colors. Sargasso Sea is that staple fall color. Navy is like the new black so to speak. It doesn’t replace black, of course. As navy blues have gained in recent seasons, this is an acknowledgement that this is the mooring of our entire palette.”

The top five classics are: Sargasso Sea 19-4031, Tofu 11-4801, Almond Buff 14-1116, Quiet Gray 14-4107 and Meerkat 16-1438.

Pantone's Classic Fall Pallet

Pantone’s Classic Fall Pallet 

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