Instead of looking outward to celebrities, professional sports teams and TikTokers for cues about color trends, increasingly pandemic-weary people are centered — first and foremost — on their own well-being and how different hues can soothe or invigorate them.
Pantone’s Fashion Color Trend Report for spring 2022 for New York Fashion Week is evidence of that. The 10 standout colors and five core classics cover the horizon whether designers or shoppers are in search of the serenity of familiar colors or revitalization through bolder shades. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said, “People are so focused now on their own well-being that those things that we might have looked at before, like the Olympics, are interesting to people. But the emotional quality of colors is really more impactful than anything else that is happening in the world around us. I know that sounds strange.”
But as a color psychologist, Eiseman, who is constantly talking to “so many” people about color and making queries about the subject, knows of what she speaks. “I’m just astounded that they’re talking about their feelings about color more than they ever have before,” she said emphatically. “I’m sure the last year and a half has brought about that thoughtfulness and pensiveness. We can all relate to that.”
While COVID-19 fatigue has set in for multitudes of people, there is also a blue-skies-ahead outlook for others. Pantone appears to be feeling blue but not necessarily in a negative sense. Four of the standout colors are varying shades of blue, including two paler ones, Spun Sugar and Glacier Lake, that each seem to hint at the shade of the omnipresent surgical masks that can be found on people around the globe.
Eighteen months of health concerns, shutdowns, reopenings and temporary closings, canceled plans, dashed hopes, anticipation and chronic rescheduling have brought about a thoughtfulness and pensiveness that many can relate to, Eiseman said. While half of the fall 2022 palette consists of quiet colors, the other half relays more of an is-it-over-yet exuberance.
“The fashion industry has hit this right on the head. Half are in calming colors. Obviously, everyone wants to feel they’re in a safe haven. On the other hand, there is the very human proclivity of wanting to get out and be active again. That’s where the more energetic colors come in,” she said.
The latter offer more experimentation. Eiseman added. “Brighter colors lift your spirits and let you abandon the rules about color that you learned, when you were older. They bring you back to being a kid again and teach you to celebrate something in your life that will give you pleasure.”
After months of self-isolation, millions of WFH-ers redecorated the interiors they tired of seeing day-in and day-out, trying out new decor in different colors to spruce up their surroundings. “Colors can be traumatizing if you’re painting the walls of your living room or dining room. Some people agonize over those colors. But with clothing, you have limitless possibilities and you don’t have to do it head-to-toe. You can have fun with a pair of sandals, a piece of jewelry or something in your hair,” Eiseman said.
Leading the NYFW Color Report are soft pastels Spun Sugar and Gossamer Pink, which are followed by more vibrant and aspirational choices like the not-to-be-missed hot pink Innuendo, emboldened blue Skydiver and sunburst Daffodil. More tranquil is Glacier Lake, Harbor Blue and toasty Coca Mocha. Rounding out the top 10 are the deepish purple Dahlia and the fiery red Ponciana.
The daring in fashion that many are flaunting with clashing color combinations and unexpected color choices will carry on, regardless if such performative dressing is for Instagram, a night in or one out on-the-town, according to Eiseman. While many are still not out-and-about as they once were, they have more time to play with colors and are finding inspirational ones via online shopping and social media, she said.
“When you’re sequestered for so long, you do break the rules and say, ‘Why not put these colors together? I need something that is stimulating.’ It’s like playing a game, when you put colors together you haven’t before just to experiment. Before you know it, you’re on social media and other people start to glom onto it. They realize, ‘Hey, this is a fun thing to do.’ And they start to share it with their friends,” Eiseman said.
Here’s a look at the 10 leading colors and the five core classics.
Spun Sugar 12-4401
This whisper of a blue epitomizes the quiet feeling that a pastel relays, according to Eiseman. “You can really take a deep breath,” she said. Traces of Spun Sugar can be found in Azede Jean-Pierre’s new collaborative Azede Powered by Gucci knitwear. More accessible brands like H&M and Levi’s favor Spun Sugar, too. Designer Cynthia Rowley and Molly-Mae Hague of “Love Island” are also fans of this soft blue.
Gossamer Pink 13-1513
More sophisticated than a childlike pink, this shade is a genderless favorite. It carries a certain reassurance “like a nice pat on the back that everything is going to be OK,” Eiseman said. Christian Cowan has worked it into his designs. BTS members have favored this color. Camila Cabello dances in a ballgown in this hue in “Cinderella.” This soft pink can also be found interiors in Galeries Lafayette’ (Re)Store, a new circular fashion space, and in the updated Victoria’s Secret stores.
The most energetic color in the palette, Innuendo is a fashion favorite that offers a “wonderful jolt of energy,” Eiseman said. Lil Nas X got a jumpstart on this trend wearing a Versace ensemble in Innuendo to the 2020 Grammys. Nick Wooster uses this bold pink in his new collaboration with Kuon.
Sure, sure, blue is tranquilizing and serene and all the rest, but this one has a brightness that gives it a new persona. LaQuan Smith, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger and American Eagle are all on board with this highly visible blue. Offset recently wore a shirt in Skydiver for a photo with Cardi B and their new baby. Salma Hayek sported a bathing suit in this shade recently for a birthday selfie.
Interest in this sunlit shade is due partially to the ongoing gardening trend. Tending flowers was one of the home-friendly trends borne out of the pandemic. This year, 86 percent of homeowners indicated they plan to continue gardening, according to a survey by Axiom Marketing. Labrum London featured this color of hope in its fall collection. Interest in this yellow shows how people are seeking clarity, Eiseman said. Even the cover of Sally Rooney’s buzzy new book “Beautiful World, Where Are You?” features this Daffodil.
Glacier Lake 16-4118
Calming and cooling, this faint blue conjures visions of arctic or mountainous travel. After months of many asking, “Should I cancel my trip?” and some doing so due to the Delta variant, just the words Glacier Lake are appealing.
Harbor Blue 18-4728
Another transportive blue, Harbor Blue reflects our longing for a safe space, according to Eiseman. Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren have infused their sportswear collections with Harbor Blue.
Coca Mocha 18-1019
This warming color has a similar effect to that of a mug of coffee or cocoa, Eiseman said. Stella McCartney has created vegan leather in Coca Mocha in seasons past. Brands like Max Mara, Fendi, Banana Republic, Markarian and Alberta Ferretti have featured this tawny color, too.
A daring, dynamic purple that brings a lot of drama to the color palette, Dahlia also hints at “wanting to get away to a more exciting place,” Eiseman said. Poet Amanda Gorman, whose reading at President Joe Biden’s inauguration made her a star, is also a fan of this purple. Recent promotional material of Gorman’s new partnership with Estée Lauder features a photo of her wearing a Dahlia-colored gown. Billy Porter has also been known to wear the color on occasion.
This heated red packs a punch and inspires travel at the same time, Eiseman said. The prospect of not only getting out in the real world, but also getting away in the real world is gaining ground with every day. Olivia Rodrigo sports a Poinciana vest and coordinating beret in her “Brutal” video that Petra Collins shot. EgonLab, Threeasfour and the aforementioned Smith are also using this spirited red.
Spring 2022 Core Classics
These seasonless shades have versatility and longevity. They also serve as anchoring colors for tranquil or vibrant hues alike.
Snow White 11-0602
This soft white isn’t rooted in the nearly 2.8 million weddings that are expected to take place this year. The quest for cleanliness and an escape from germs has been a priority during the pandemic. Snow White seems to capture that sentiment, according to Eiseman, who noted that white is also a sign of uninterrupted inner peace and hints at the dove of peace. Kristen Stewart turned up in a Snow White ensemble at last week’s Venice Film Festival. This soft white can be found in Sanctuary Spa’s new campaign and Express sportswear.
Perfectly Pale 13-0003
Earlier this summer, Biden caught a lot of media attention for wearing a summery linen suit in this light tan, as his predecessor Barack Obama had. But this color is reminiscent of walking on a warm, inviting beach, according to Eiseman. Indicative of the color’s universal appeal, Jacquemus slouchy separates, Brooks Brother khakis, a Dior skirt and Kim Kardashian West’s Skims all incorporate Perfectly Pale.
Another indicator of the health and wellness trend is the preponderance of basil, the fragrant herb that is said to relive oxidative stress. Peter Som and Paris Hilton have used Basil for their culinary venture, while designers like Gucci’s Alessandro Michele have put it to good use, as has Reese Cooper, who designed joggers in this deep green.
Northern Droplet 14-4104
This barely there gray is another sampling of quietude, according to Eiseman. Ganni and Vestiaire Collective are early adopters of this always-in-fashion color choice.
Poppy Seed 18-4004
This deep gray is a timeless favorite with designers like Thom Browne. It can also be found in the steely exterior of The Shed in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, where Browne will welcome 250 guests during New York Fashion Week at his show Saturday. Workout enthusiasts can find Poppy options by Under Armour. Dee Ocleppo-Hilfiger has also taken to Poppy Seed as evidenced by some of the styles in the new Dee Ocleppo cashmere line.