Thursday, January 31, 2013

 Interesting article in french that Henri Debar first posted on LinkedIn in the group Color about Emerald as the official color in fashion for 2013! La barbe ne fait pas le philosophe... le vert √©meraude, si ! lemonde.fr


This is the translation in english for it:

A beard doesn't make a philosopher...green emerald does!


Like each January, the Pantone brand just elected its "color of the year", which is supposed to inspire designers and seduce the crowds in the worlds of fashion, beauty or decoration. After the "tangerine tango" (bright orange) in 2012, the "emerald" was chosen as vintage color. A quite wise color if one believes the various comments that this announcement has raised (the shade is so very smooth, designated as "soft", "nice", "cool", "spontaneous", "natural", etc.. ). Is the Emerald green such a color "without history"?
How we see color is not neutral: we never grasp a chromatic event in the raw. The grasping of a tint is indeed always taken in a network of cultural meanings, the legacy of a set of theories and social practices (artistic, religious or technical) that we are not conscious of, but which guide our tastes and preferences. In his books on color, historian Michel Pastoureau constantly reminds us: "The problems of color cannot be reduced to any biological or neurobiological problems. They are largely social or ideological," he says and in his captivating Blue.

And it is clear that with green, a fortiori in its emerald shade, the layers of meaning and implicit symbols abound, making the proclamation of the emerald green being in fashion, if not problematic, at least more complex than it seems: "If french clothing stores, even today, offer so few green items for sale (...), it is also and especially because green does not sell easily due to the beliefs which surround it: for men, but more so for women, this color is considered to bring bad luck. Several sellers of clothing for ladies have confirmed that green dresses do not sell well. One of them, working for a large Parisian store, even stated that to the eyes of some clients 'a green dress is a witch dress'. To these remarks coming from  the ready-to-wear, jewelers could add their testimony, they who know well that emeralds, despite their  undeniable beauty, are hard to sell stones, "written in 2010, Pastoureau, in The colors of our memories.

In this polychrome book, the historian (and the man who admits that green is his favorite color) recalls that wearing green has long been taboo. A superstition that would not come from a naive credulity, but which would be based on very sound reasons. Before the era of the industrial production of colors,  the fixation of the green dye on fabrics was problematic: derived from vegetable matter, the green oxidized quickly losing its luster and turning gray and bland. This "chemical instability" would - according to Pastoureau and quite "logically" then - be at the origin of the association of the color green "to everything symbolically changing or ephemeral : youth, love, luck, fortune, hope. "

The negative connotation that comes with the idea that randomness will necessarily be harmful (the reputation the green has for bringing jinx) would result, in turn, from the solution found by chemists to address this problem of chromatic fixation : the use of corrosive and toxic substances (acid or arsenic) to obtain vivid and durable greens would, indeed, make the tinted clothing as dangerous as a tunic of Nessus!

Thus do we find, to use the classification proposed by Annie Mollard-Desfour in her book The Green (scholarly dictionary devoted to the exploration of the semantic field of this color), several greens. Besides the "green of greenery and water, of life, of vigor, of fertility" (obvious for our time that associates this color to nature) other greens remain as open perspectives and potential meanings, ones "of chance, bad luck or good luck, hope" but also "of the otherness, the strange and the stranger, the supernatural, the marvelous often evil" , or still "the alteration, discoloration and macabre."

Emerald tone ("reference to the shade of bright, luminous green of emerald, a gemstone particularly desirable for the brilliance of its nuances," recalls Annie Mollard-Desfour) seems to summarize all these "contradictory symbolics": it  beckons nature and towards what nature has that is most precious ( the mineral-jewel).

For proof, go see the replica of the crown of the Empress Farah at the exhibition of the Museum of Decorative Arts dedicated to Van Cleef & Arpels; luminosity and diaphanous: "When a ray of sunshine gilded the highest branches, they seemed, soaked in a sparkling moisture, to emerge alone from the liquid and emerald color atmosphere where the forest as a whole was immersed as if  under the sea", we read in the writings of Proust in "Swann's Way"), but also look toward the supernatural ("The emerald green crystal of Superman, kryptonite, obviously does not carry any mephitic connotation, but signals the supernatural origin of the superhero," says Sandra Gorgievski in The Myth of Arthur : from medieval imaginary to mass culture), and even toward the most artificial and dangerous there is (absinthe was thus referred to as "the emeraldine fairy"). To wear emerald fabric (adjective derived from the Latin smaragdinus, " of emerald") is not as trivial as it seems ...

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