There’s a new colour on the scene – Millennial Pink, also known as “Tumblr Pink” or “scandi pink”, according to New York Magazine.
The strange thing about this colour, which is obviously associated with Generation Y, is that it comprises multiple shades. These shades range from pale, blush and salmon to Rose Quartz, Pantone’s colour of the year 2016. Added to these is a brownish pink Pantone has called Pale Dogwood.
This colour or, more accurately, these shades, have been seen all over, most notably in Wes Anderson’s movie Grand Budapest Hotel. It also can’t be missed in the opening sequence of Issa Rae’s HBO hit series Insecure. Then there’s Brother Vellies Resort 2017 collection.
Retailers haven’t been left out; you’ll spot Millennial Pink when shopping for everything from cellphone covers and home appliances (think Smeg toasters) to magazine mastheads.
While many have debated how inaccurate it may be to have a colour made up of multiple shades, Millennial Pink seems to work more as a state of mind and is now manifesting among a generation that champions gender-fluid politics. This time around, it’s for the guys too.
Who can forget the pink neon lights in Drake’s Hotline Bling, as well as the cover art for the single? Then there’s Zayn Malick’s pink ombre hair and the dusty pink turtleneck Blood Orange wore at the CFDA fashion awards. It’s been dubbed the new androgyny and while we’re not sure if it’ll stick around, it’s certainly a sign of the “woke” times.
That said, it’s interesting to note that it’s not the first time in history that men have been encouraged to comfortably wear pink.
HISTORICALLY PINK WASN’T A FEMININE HUE
Nowadays we think of pink as being girly and feminine, while blue is the colour of baby boys, but not that long ago the exact opposite was true.
In 1918 an article in the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department said, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
The article is cited by Smithsonian.com, which also refers to a 1927 edition of Time magazine. “[It] printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading US stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. So did Best & Co in New York City, Halle’s in Cleveland and Marshall Field in Chicago.”
Jay Gatsby famously wore a pink, three-piece linen suit in the 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, an outfit that symbolised the decadence of the roaring ’20s. Ralph Lauren himself designed the version of the pink suit that Robert Redford wore in the 1974 film version of the novel.
Leonardo DiCaprio played Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 remake, and his pink suit is part of the Brooks Brothers’ Gatsby collection.
It was only after World War 2 that pink became associated with femininity. Men were returning from the fighting, and women who had replaced them in the factories were encouraged to become homemakers.
It was only after World War 2 that pink became associated with femininity. Men were returning from the fighting, and women who had replaced them in the factories were encouraged to become homemakers. Fashion and homeware brands used shades of pink in their products because its cheerful vibe was seen as an antidote to the drab factory environment.
Christian Dior’s first collection New Look, unveiled in Paris in 1947, featured ladylike silhouettes, feminine cuts and lots of pink throughout the range.
PINK & POLITICS
Fast forward to last year, when Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s pant-suits became a campaign cliché. Ralph Lauren was her go-to designer; a hot pink Lauren gown was one of her most memorable outfits.
More than two decades earlier, in 1994, Hillary’s choice of a pink sweater was a leading talking point after her first news conference as first lady. It became known as “the pretty-in-pink press conference”, and the Washington Post said later: “The press viewed Clinton’s decision to wear pink – ‘an unusual hue for her,’ the San Francisco Chronicle noted – as an attempt to soften the image of a first lady who was seen by some as wielding too much power.”
PINK IN POP CULTURE
Pink sweaters got an architectural spin more recently thanks to Solange in the most memorable way. In the opening frame of her Grammy-winning single Cranes in the Sky, she is captured in a huge sweater made of memory foam, like something that belongs in an exhibition. Not far from the truth – the sweater was designed by Berlin designer Nadine Goepfert, as part of her collection titled The Garments May Vary.
Rihanna has over the years played around with different shades of pink. The singer has pale shades of the colour infiltrated throughout her Fenty Puma collection, while the frothy rogue-pink Giambattista Valli couture she wore to the 2015 Grammy Awards got mixed reviews. Most recently the “Bad Gal” was a show- stopper at the Met Ball Gala in a deconstructed layered Comme des Garçons dress, which included pink floral prints and pink cut-outs in different shades.
THE COLOUR OF THE MOMENT
This season pink has been prevalent on the runway. Young & Lazy opted for bubblegum pink for their menswear collection at South African Fashion Week SS17, while Gucci went for an entirely pink retro-themed collection for Spring 2017. Salmon pink was a favourite for Chloe’s SS17 collection and Bottega Veneta Fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection saw a model in a magenta pink trench. Pink is clearly a fashion statement.