There’s a new sophistication coming for autumn, and colour is leading the way. Stephanie Smith explains what the new shades represent.
There is no escape from bold, vibrant colour this autumn, so lovers of black and monochrome, you have been warned.
Actually, bold and vibrant is a pretty blunt way of describing what is in fact an intriguing and wonderfully sophisticated palette. The colours of High Street fashion – both what we wear and what we buy for our homes – are far from random. Remember Miranda Priestley’s words to her hapless new assistant in The Devil Wears Prada: “That sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean,” she snootily points out, adding that Oscar de la Renta first created a collection of cerulean gowns, after which the colour filtered through the department stores and then “trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin”.
Her point is that even the least trend-conscious among us still wear colours influenced by fashion’s elite.
So, the bold red we’re seeing this autumn, especially on tailored coats, is not pillarbox red or scarlet, but Aurora Red, warm, sensual, punchy and dynamic.
Each season, global colour consultancy Pantone releases its top 10 trend colours, and I’m highlighting just a few key ones here.
Dusty Cedar is a soft yet vibrant deep rose tone, complex and warm. See the Next top and trousers image on these pages, and note how the colour creates much more impact when worn all over, here as matching separates. Team it with brown leather, a touch of animal print, or with glinting shades of copper and gold for a luxurious, unusual and very autumnal take on pink.
The yellow (see the Marella coat) is called Spicy Mustard. It is uplifting, vibrant and rather unexpected, and can be seen in abstract and geometric designs as well as by itself. It works well with other colours in the autumn palette, so could be a good one for colour blocking, perhaps a mustard sweater with a Lush Meadow skirt – see the Very green pleated skirt.
Lush Meadow is elegant and sophisticated, with a lustrous richness that distinguishes it from more natural greens. It’s an effective shade for providing a touch of outfit elevation – that is, adding elegance to whatever you are wearing, taking it more upmarket.
Look out too for Potter’s Clay, which has undertones of russet orange, earthy but far from flat, and a great shade to use as a base building block, perhaps for a pencil skirt.
To be fair, many of these shades are a starting point, and there are diversions and variations, plus colours that remain classics, such as teal and cobalt blue, but the Pantone trends do show the moods underpinning fashion.
Judging from what we see right now, we are living in complex times, and perhaps need to take comfort from anchoring earthy tones, but we also want to express a confidence and a playfulness with warm red and lush green, while spicy yellow invites a touch of the exotic, and allows a little intrigue.
By choosing to wear one of the new season colours, we can immediately update our wardrobe and present a modern, culture-savvy face to the world.
It need not be head to toe and it certainly need not cost a fortune – a bag, a pair of boots or a scarf might do the trick perfectly well (especially for those who prefer to stick to their mainly black or monochrome looks).
Don’t be afraid to mix the colours together, and keep in mind that texture is another important element, adding even more richness to this autumn’s luxurious themes. Wools and velvets are key, increasingly so as we move through the season to winter. It’s going to be opulent, but never tacky.