Given the staying power of androgynous sportswear and fashion’s embrace of transgender models, the fact that Pantone’s top 10 fall colors for women and men are nearly identical seems to make perfect sense.

Both sexes are breaking free from traditional autumnal hues in favor of more unexpected ones. The exotic red Sangria, the more sophisticated Aurora Red and the more adaptable Radiant Orchid ranked first, second and third, respectively, for both sexes. The only point of dispute was fourth place, with women banking on Mauve Mist (thanks perhaps to the ladies of “Downton Abbey”) and men opting for the slightly grayer Sea Fog.

This story first appeared in the February 6, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

And with film adaptations of bestsellers “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Lean In” in the works, gender roles are continuing to be redefined. In the wake of the past several years’ shaky economy, people were in search of balance and equilibrium, but now they want fashion to be more of a flight of fancy, according to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone’s Color Institute. “The whole theme of this season is that color transcends time and place. It takes you in an entirely different direction be that through art, travel, landscapes or even retro design. This season is really all about ingenuity, imagination and artfulness. Designers are not saying, ‘It’s fall — we really have to have an orange or this or that.’”

Shoppers need only to flip through the ads in any magazine, not just fashion ones, to be reminded of “the art of” — whether that be the art of window coverings, the art of cooking or anything else, Eiseman said. And online spenders are being besieged with curated e-commerce sites. But back to the fall palette. “Designers are trying to establish wardrobes that have more of an artful presence. They understand that, unlike before, customers want to get a little fun and creative with their wardrobes,” she said. “It’s as if they’re saying, ‘Let’s not be quite as serious.’”







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