The most popular colors on designers’ fall drawing boards have ethnic, exotic and retro connotations. A frock made of fabric the shade of Moroccan blue isn’t, as its name suggests, out of place rocking the Casbah. In Narciso Rodriguez’s hands, Moroccan blue becomes one of the layers in a costume inspired by Afro-Brazilian deities. Depending on your perspective, ruby wine and glazed ginger evoke Russia — it does for Cynthia Steffe — or an exiled princess caught in a snowstorm, as in the imagination of Douglas Hannant. Meanwhile, Shelly Steffee takes her cue from streamlined luxury automobiles of the Thirties such as the Maybach, Pierce-Arrow and Zephyr. Blue with brown, gray with red, nude with red and gray with white comprise her fall palette.
- PANTONE 19-4241 MOROCCAN BLUE
Moroccan blue has green undertones, which makes it more interesting than the standard navy. “They’ve hit on a color that resonates with a lot of people,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “It has an ethnic quality that evokes Morocco and the Southwest.”
- PANTONE 18-1154 GLAZED GINGER
Esteban Cortazar and Yigal Azrouël incorporate glazed ginger in their collections, which are inspired by nature. “An abandoned, beautiful park filled with leaves in all different colors” is Cortazar’s reference point. Azrouël uses “combinations that exist in nature [that] consistently enhance a woman’s glow.”
- PANTONE 19-1795 AMERICAN BEAUTY
A shade of red with warm undertones, American Beauty has a champion in Carolina Herrera, whose collection is based on the art of Vuillard and Poiret. “The color has depth, like a velvety red rose,” said Eiseman. Other fans include Yeohlee, whose designs take inspiration from Luis Barragan’s architecture in Mexico City, and Reem Acra, who uses jewel tones with touches of cinnamon, bordeaux, bronze and distressed silver and gold, as the basis for her designs.
- PANTONE 19-1629 RUBY WINE
“The quintessential color of elegance,” is how Eiseman describes ruby wine. “It’s the deepest variation of red and becomes a bridge to brown.” David Rodriguez, whose favorite colors are always in the red family, uses ruby wine as a signature color for fall.
- PANTONE 16-1406 ATMOSPHERE
Expect to see Atmosphere, the color of an overcast sky, starring in Michael Vollbracht’s Bill Blass collection. The designer, who thinks the shade evokes Paris in the spring, mixes silver with mauves and steel gray. Eiseman said Atmosphere’s warm gray blends well with any of the other top 10 colors.
- PANTONE 18-0521 BURNT OLIVE
Burnt olive figures prominently in the collection of Jeffrey Chow, who uses rich browns, charcoals and loden green, for fall. Echoes of Visconti’s “The Leopard” and the mood of European movies of the Seventies such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “The Marriage of Marie Braun” inform his collection.
- PANTONE 19-3022 GLOXINIA
“Purple has a mystical quality,” said Eiseman. “We’re starting to use it the way we see it used in other cultures, in very complex combinations.” Gloxinia is high on Peter Som’s list. The designer’s collection features deep, warm shades of purple mixed with olive. Som’s muse is Anjelica Huston and her “chicly insouciant strength.”
- PANTONE 14-1031 RATTAN
Yellow continues to evolve from a high-wattage accent to a relaxed shade that’s toned down several decibels from the brights of spring. Rattan, a yellow-beige, is a signature color for Herrera. Inspired by the art of Andy Goldsworthy, the designer pairs rattan with brighter colors such as raspberry.
- PANTONE 16-0532 MOSS
Azrouël’s color philosophy, “if it exists in nature, it’s effortless to make a combination work,” applies to moss. His warm winter palette includes sage and fir balsam, okra, persimmon and berry. He combines these shades with creamy whites, deep browns and beiges.
- PANTONE 16-1448 BURNT ORANGE
For fall, orange is the hot color, but the shade is tempered by its “burnt” characteristic. Alice Roi uses cool orange as her signature color for the season because it works easily with her classic fall palette. “Burnt orange is not one of those really vibrant oranges,” Eiseman said. “It’s much more subdued and more typically, a russet color.”
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