The Year of the Orchid

Are you wearing Radiant Orchid this year? No? Well according to fashionistas and Pantone, you should be! Colour experts Pantone decided at the end of last year that the colour of the year for 2014 was going to be a modern, captivating shade of purple called Radiant Orchid. Quick go check your wardrobe and see if you have that colour anywhere there! If you come across something that is Emerald, then, I have to say, that is so last year darling: Pantone’s 2013 colour of the year was Emerald!
Do you want to know how they arrived at Emerald last year and Radiant Orchid this year? Here is the thinking: Emerald served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, appropriate for 2013 as the seeds of economic recovery were seen to be growing stronger. In contrast, Radiant Orchid reaches across the Pantone colour wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination. It’s an invitation to innovation- the vibrancyencourages expanded creativity and originality, which is (and always should be) increasingly valued in today’s society. Radiant orchid can best be described as a rich fusion of bright and enchanting fuchsia, purple, and a subtle pink injection as an undertone. If Pantone are to be believed it inspires in the wearer (and those around) confidence, joy, love and health, as you are drawn in by its beguiling charm.
But of course, the colour of the year is not all about clothes. We have seen it everywhere- soft furnishings, cameras, key-rings, pendants, ear-rings, lightshades, in fact everything apart from automobiles. It’s just a shade too vibrant for car manufacturers to licence the colour- although personally, I’d have liked to seen it adopted by the Mercedes Formula 1 Team this year- better than that boring old silver colour they used last year and this. Pantone have their own proposals for how it could be worn:
“This multi-faceted hue is seductive when combined with red and pairs well with its sister shades of lavender, purple and pink, which provides an assortment of lipstick and blush options. Radiant Orchid’s exuberance also acts as a brilliant finishing touch to nails.”
Not everyone agrees. Some fashion commentators have said that the colour is three decades out of date- it would have been fine for the mid 1980s to accompany Prince’s Purple Rain period and Cyndi Lauper’s kooky lipstick.
So who are Pantone anyway?Pantone began as a commercial printing company in the 1950s. In 1956, they hired Lawrence Herbert who used his chemistry knowledge to systematize and simplify the company’s stock of pigments and production of coloured inks. He subsequently purchased the company’s technological assets from his employers and renamed them “Pantone”.
The company’s primary products include the Pantone Guides, which consist of a large number of small (approximately 6×2 inches or 15×5 cm) thin cardboard sheets, printed on one side with a series of related colour swatches and then bound into a small “fan deck”.
The idea behind the colour matching system is to allow designers to “colour match” specific colours when a design enters production stage, regardless of the equipment used to produce the colour. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers and reproduction and printing houses. Some complaint that it has become a monopoly by stealth!
Pantone colours are described by their allocated number. For example in January 2003, the Scottish Parliament debated a petition to refer to the blue in the Scottish flag as “Pantone 300” in order to ensure consistency and standardisation whenever the flag was reproduced on paper etc.

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