Powering up with color seems to be the takeaway from the Pantone Color Institute’s spring 2019 fashion color trend report for New York Fashion Week.
Attention-grabbing red-related and orange-y tones dominated the season’s leading five colors, with Fiesta, Jester Red, Turmeric, Living Coral and Pink Peacock ranking first through fifth, respectively. Their names alone relay a certain verve for inanimate aesthetics. Some might chalk up the list’s pink-infused hues as remnants of the Women’s March pink-hatted supporters or the current “pink wave” of female candidates running for political office in the U.S., but next season’s emboldened palette is not a gender-specific forecast.
Pantone Color Institute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman said, “From a psychological standpoint, when you look at what the colors mean, the hotter colors particularly in the red family are all about empowerment. That’s a word that has gotten some play that is really going to show itself in the spring collections. Confident, uplifting, joyful hues, but the undercurrent is empowerment to all of them.”
Combined, they also help to meld high fashion and street style, which has shown no signs of going away. Pepper Stem, Aspen Gold and Princess Blue — sixth through eighth — are “a way to have fun,” or in colorist lingo they are prime for “playful expressionism.” Color-minded Instagrammers have bolstered the interest in more offbeat kaleidoscopic combinations, as have directional designers like Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, Miuccia Prada and Sies Marjan’s Sander Lak. Many pro athletes are diving into the emboldened color trend, as evidenced by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills’ Fiesta-shaded three-piece suit at this summer’s ESPYs and, more recently, Roger Federer’s Jester Red Uniqlo shirt and Sloane Stephens’ Turmeric-tinted Nike tennis dress at the U.S. Open. Look for more shocking colors on NBA courts now that the league has loosened color restrictions on sneakers for the first time in its history.
Stores understand that shoppers already have a lot of black in their wardrobes. “Who doesn’t?” Eiseman asked, adding that most shoppers are all set with navy blue, too. “Now, they want something to have fun with or to make a statement with. This spring’s bevy of statement colors aren’t just so over-the-top that they pop off the web site or a page. They are also colors that are bolder, and yet, they’re not so in-your-face that they’re overwhelming.”
“It’s also hitting on the zeitgeist of needing to express one’s self in a more original and more powerful way. The use of more vibrant colors takes you down that path,” Eiseman said.
In addition to the Top 12, there is a compact list of four spring neutrals — Soybean, Eclipse, Sweet Corn and Brown Granite. These are not unexpected as far as neutrals, Eiseman said. “Four are needed because it is the glue that holds everything together.”
“Just the sight of this color signals excitement, pure energy and passion that relays a sexy quality attached to it, and yet it has an underlying warmth that makes it a very approachable red,” Eiseman said. “If you look at this color, it has a tiny bit of black in it so it has that underlying power that is intrinsic to the red family.” Daktota Johnson got a jump on the trend by wearing it to the Venice Film Festival.
2. Jester Red
This might be an unexpected selection for spring, but just the concept of plucking colors from what seemingly belongs in another season and using that in an unexpected direction has become a trend, according to Eiseman. Far from a run-of-the-mill spring color, this one has more depth and more intensity, as well as an elegance that allows for “a big city red,” Eiseman said.
This “enlivening” hue’s name plays to the fact that there are more exotic spices in foods with the takeaway being a more appetizing appeal. “As colorists and forecasters, we pay close attention to the food industry because it gives you a lot of information about what is going to be appealing to people, what they’re reading about and what might be tempting to them,” Eiseman said. “When you use the word ‘tempting,’ it can tempt the tongue but also tempt the eye. In fashion, that obviously is an important issue.” And beauty brands are already on board with turmeric face masks and other products.
4. Living Coral
An affable color with a proper edge, Living Coral still grabs attention but not as blatantly as orange does. Prada is a fan of the shade, as is Zac Posen whose spring collection includes an off-the-shoulder Living Coral dress as seen on Maya Thurman Hawke in a short film Gia Coppola shot for the designer. Flattering to many skin tones, Living Coral and other shades of the orange family will continue to move to the forefront for spring. Just last week, Kourtney Kardashian and Sofia Richie were featured “in the battle of the coral bikini” in The Daily Mail, although that seems to be a year-round competition that is not limited to any one color.
5. Pink Peacock
Gender issues aside, pink is pretty much a given for spring. This hue and similarly forceful pinks have been gaining ground in recent seasons in women’s and men’s collections, Eiseman said. Director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Valerie Steele said, “As somebody who is dressed like a Sicilian widow all the time in black, I just couldn’t help noticing over the last few years that there were more and more people wearing pink, including men, and not just six-year-olds, but grown-up people.” Eiseman would agree. “It’s hard not to include it and designers get that message. It’s not only a color that attracts attention, but it has that glow that is attached to it,” she said.
6. Pepper Stem
Virgil Abloh used a variation of this tone and an assortment of others including Princess Blue for the rainbow-colored runway used for his men’s collection debut at Louis Vuitton. This yellow green is complex and can make for intriguing color combinations when paired with Pink Peacock, Fiesta, Jester Red or Princess Blue, Eiseman said. While green fashion — in the environmental sense — is a way of life, Pepper Stem can be experimented with just as the vegetable might be used by a chef for added flavor.
7. Aspen Gold
High-profilers like Amal Clooney, Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian have helped to bring this color to the public eye. Millennials have their pink but there is also Gen Z yellow. “With yellows still steadily climbing, Aspen Gold is a joyful color. As its name suggests, it is prime for spring collections,” Eiseman said. “So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, because it was strong last season. Let’s continue to use it. Then the consumer can say, ‘Alright, I already own that yellow. Maybe now I want to look at one of the newer colors for spring.'”
8. Princess Blue
The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is reportedly more influential as a style-setter than Markle, according to eBay’s annual U.K. Retail Report. But the “Suits” actress-turned-royal is indirectly linked to this royal blue. “Always a winner, there’s not much you can do with that royal blue tone that people don’t love. When we look at the world around us, Meghan is getting a lot of attention, as the royals have been for the past few years. Everybody is going to be looking at what she’s wearing. She’s not a princess, but certainly it’s a royal color. The most outstanding of the cooler colors,” Eiseman said.
Think chocolate, then coffee and Toffee becomes the natural progression for the color wheel. Brown might not signal crocus season, but this one is meant to be a much richer tone along the lines of a chocolatier like Maison Chocolat and Royce, as opposed to an earth color. Saint Laurent executive Clement Giraudet wore a vest in this color with a white shirt and black pants to wed Robin Wright last month.
10. Mango Mojito
Another variation of the yellow family, this too is an homage to fall as a more golden yellow, Eiseman said. “It is kind of a comforting color that has a warmth, but also a depth attached to it.” Beyoncé has helped to introduce this hue to the masses, by wearing a Valentino couture gown on stage during her “On the Run II” tour with Jay Z.
11. Terrarium Moss
A deeper variation of Pepper Snap, Terrarium Moss is more of a classic or basic that can be worn from one season to the next, according to Eiseman. Men’s wear designers were among the first to take to it last fall, as seen in the collections from Fendi, Reiss and Topman. This deep green lends itself to unexpected pairings, with yellows being a natural combination from Eiseman’s point of view.
12. Sweet Lilac
Once again the power of pink will have a lasting presence on the spring collections. The soft shade has been apparent in an assortment of ways in recent times. Lady Gaga wore an elaborate Valentino couture gown in soft pink at the Venice Film Festival. The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni wed over the weekend with the help of soft pink-clad bridesmaids. The color was also a definitive accent at Aretha Franklin’s funeral procession, thanks to 100-plus pink Cadillacs.
To ensure the aforementioned bolder colors have a solid base, there are four more malleable neutrals. As seasonless fabrics become more suitable for different climate regions, so do transitional neutrals.
Soybean is a darker variation of Sweet Corn, and both colors relay a sense of warmth “like wrapping ourselves in a blanket which is more of a psychological effect, than a physical effect,” Eiseman said. Soybeans are at the root of the U.S.-China trade war since tariffs against U.S. Soybeans were imposed. Pantone’s take on Soybean is meant to leave wearers “just feeling good or nurtured,” Eiseman said.
The night sky never grows old for astronomers or dreamers. Like Toffee and Terrarium Moss, this very deep navy is associated more with wintry times. Eiseman said, “It’s hard to escape any sort of navy in the springtime, it’s just such a classic, and it’s a very deep navy. Even though they’re typical, we’ve seen more navy in fall and winter.
3. Sweet Corn
The days of bidding adieu to white after Labor Day appear to be falling by the wayside. Trend Union forecaster Li Edelkoort expects variations of white to become more year-round staples in response to climate change. Sweet Corn would qualify. “The Favourite” lead actress Emma Stone got the memo, wearing an embroidered Louis Vuitton gown in this shade at the Venice Film Festival.
4. Brown Granite
“A great grounding color that offers just a little bit more versatility,” Eiseman also described it as “a very strong color, authentic color.” This one works well with Sweet Lilac, she said. Referring the list for spring, Eiseman said, “The biggest surprise was in the use of the browns. Sometimes navy and black are standard default basics. With Brown Granite, the name implies strong, supportive brown.”