With Pantone’s recent unveiling of 18-3838 Ultra Violet as Color of the Year 2018, we thought of looking back at how colors made an impact in fashion in this year (and in other aspects). Hold on to your fidget spinners and get ready for a whirl ‘cause we’re about to give 2017 a dizzying spin.
Sure we saw tons of people take up urban gardening, treating indoor succulents and leafy herbs as babies cradled in their perfect geometric cement pots — but did we ever really adopt the underlying notion behind the 2017 shade.
Pantone called it a symbol for the reconnection we seek—with Nature, with one another, and with a larger purpose. Greenery was all about rejuvenation, renewal—an immersion into the lush and to the pristine. It was supposed to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. But did it?
The year might have just been too toxic, the color never really stood a chance. We’re guessing it needed a tougher iteration—which is maybe why instead of leafage, we got people donning more camos and military greens. And speaking of foliage, the only floral that mattered to us this year were surprise petals raining down from under a bald drag queen’s wig.
Brands and campaigns this year gave us more duotones—or that deliciously contrasting two-color blend pioneered by Spotify and Instagram. The only difference is we saw brands experiment more with hybrids resulting in offshoots like your double exposure duotone and your double colorlight variation.
Turning up the brightness
As we wait for what the Fox-Disney deal holds for the future ofour superhero faves, let’s look back at how Marvel played around with pops of color this year, in full visual contrast to its DC counterpart. Remember the delightful color collision featured in Thor: Ragnarok’s movie posters? Now that’s how you do rainbows justice. Twenty seventeen was when we turned the volume up and solidified the color shift from neutrals to a bolder, more vibrant palette that is eye-catching, refreshing, and insanely captivating.
It was the year Kanye gave us a color that signifies a more forward, more striking zest of self-expression: Frozen Yellow. Highsnobiety called it “futuristic, antagonizing and the antithesis to ‘clean.’” A piercing neon that paints the kind of boldness, contrast, and drama that we think embodies the strange hyperactive yet instinctive quality of today’s youth more than Millennial Pink, that special unicorn snowflake shade that got old real fast.
To call our next ubiquitous trend a color would somewhat be a misnomer because it’s more of a treatment than a hue. We’re talking about the visual crackle of glitching and distortion, that highly saturated rainbow striping in white noise pixelated video streams.
More and more, we saw brands serve us this aesthetic, giving way to edgier campaigns that showed us a look and feel that more or less captured a different take on the essence of our current times.
Shutterstock Creative Director Terrence Morash has this to say about the glitch: “It manages a paradoxical balance of being both futuristic and retro, reflecting an unsettling near-future while referencing the low-fi technology of the past.”
It’s a visual dynamic steeped in imperfection, one that aestheticizes errors to create an “intentional chaos in an era where technology is meant to create order,” says an Adweek article on ‘the glitch’ being a defining design trend.
Love it or hate it, we think distortion and its dystopian-futuristic appeal is here to stay. And we’re excited to see it peak and break off into something else altogether.
The ‘80s all over again
Oh boy, to say that the ‘80s were kind of a big thing this year is one massive understatement. It’s everywhere. From movie remakes to TV series, it’s a fascinating 80s pop culture explosion.
What we consider style highlights are: the brutalist neo-noir looks from the visually stunning sci-fi sequel Bladerunner 2049; visuals from lo-fi heartthrob James Reid’s sensually oversaturated Palm Dreams album; and of course (Punk) Eleven and the rest of Hawkins.
For women, you also have to thank the San Junipero girls from Black Mirror; and for guys, it’s Armie Hammer dancing in billowy button-down shirts as Oliver in Luca Guadagnino’s indie hit Call Me By Your Name.
Darker, more sensual
We’re not talking about your generic Swim Reaper vantablack embodiment of the void, it’s more like the sensual Riverdale air of mystery and danger. Twenty seventeen is the year style took a darker, more brooding turn, as evidenced by the shades of red we saw this year, shades that signified power and its intoxicating hold.
As proof, you have your Kanye & Adidas’ YEEZY Calabasas line in maroon, the new Burgundy Red Galaxy S8 color variant,even T. Swift’s serpentine unraveling.
We can’t deny that 2017 is a year for protests. From the Harvey Weinstein debacle to our own local disputes, each quarter came with a socio-political uproar that had everyone from both sides marching to the streets.
The fact that every cause has its own awareness ribbon is proof that color is a powerful tool in rallying people together to take their activism a step further. Fenty Beauty, Rihanna’s inclusive line of universal makeup made to enhance features of women of every culture, attitude, and shade, was one revolutionary highlight we’re thankful to have happened.
We also have to give a shout-out to reigning Miss Universe, Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters for telling people that overcoming fears is the best way to inspire and influence others to get over their own doubts.
Twenty seventeen is the year we became more fierce in defending our stand, in helping out for a cause, and in making a difference in the world, as seen in the questions featured when Google walked us through the #YearInSearch in their simple yet poignant yearender vid.
The shade of it all
And now for Pantone’s Color of The Year for 2018. Pantone’s primer said that Ultra Violet stood for creative inspiration, that it’s a provocative shade communicating visionary thinking, suggesting complexities ranging from cosmic mysteries to discoveries fromthe beyond.
It harkens back to the time when galaxy prints were the in thing—and rightly so. With astrology permeating our online feeds more and more, this can only be deemed appropriate. By the way the mercury retrograde ended December 23 so things should have been a lot more easy for you as of late.
Enigmatic as it may be, one can’t help but question if a mystic pushing of creative boundaries is indeed what humanity needs right now. Imagination may help you in dreaming up a colorful future, but at the end of the day,you’re still gonna have to do the brush strokes to make your own artwork..
What’s in a color, anyway? Ultra Violet can be a lot of things. It is the angry Marvel space sister Nebula, it is a Van Gogh swirl, a kid-friendly dinosaur’s prominent hue, maybe even a mantle of the clergy. It is a shade in honor of the musical icons we lost this year. It can also stand for the warm comfort of sticky puto bumbong or that Good Shepherd spread you take home after a retreat. It’s a fresh bruise, a tan-inducing wave, a flower, a pixel, a block of tint and more.
Ultra Violet may take many forms, but at the end of the day, Pantone’s Color of the Year will always be an exercise in prediction. It offers a formulated guess as to what gradient the zeitgeist is heading. Just as in everything else, it’s best we remember that a color only gets its depth the moment you put meaning behind it.