The Genteel
April 22, 2021


Pantone named "Tangerine Tango: Pantone 17-1463" the colour of 2012. Source:

Frank Sinatra said it best: orange is the happiest colour. Orange doesn't stand quietly on the sidelines, it yells out words of encouragement. It's not rude or boastful, it seduces with confidence. After months of bundling up in grey, black, navy, and brown, it's time to shed a few layers and embrace optimistic orange. Even though it is not generally considered the sexiest colour, orange is on everybody's lips; from interior to graphic designers, orange is working its way into your living room and closet. 

Pantone Colour Institute named "Tangerine Tango: Pantone 17-1463" the colour of 2012 in hopes of re-energising and stimulating the mind. Pantone's Executive Director and Colour Specialist Leatrice Eiseman announced on the company's website that the colour combines "the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow."

The Gap: Add orange detailing and pair
with blues

Besides being optimistic, orange is also a proactive colour. Eiseman affirmed that orange is "... building on the ideas of courage and action, that we want to move on to better things." It seems that orange's happiness is addictive - it lingers on the tip of our taste buds until it colours our entire palette with joy. Eiseman wrote in The Colour Answer Book that the status of orange as a colour has changed dramatically over time: "…for several decades of the mid-20th century, as a result of greater availability of less expensive household goods, vibrant orange was thought of as a cheap colour. However, with the use of orange by high-end fashion designers such as Versace, Hermès, Carolina Herrera, Oscar De La Renta, and Missoni, orange has become less stigmatised. Abstract art, especially as it became more mainstream, also contributed to a greater sense of appreciation for vivid colours."

In a sea of colour, orange floats to its own upbeat tune. It has painted the runway for S/S 2012 and has made its mark on Fall/Winter 2012. Orange is the darling of designers this season, from Gap to Hermès (who has wisely associated their brand with orange since the 1950s). It appears on solid pieces to patterned garments, accessories, and even make-up. Derek Lam's collection featured several one-piece garments - dresses, coats, and even a loose onesie - in orange tones, paired with slick hair and a tan. For his Fall 2012 collection, Kanye West threw a knee-length apricot coloured fur coat in midst of head-to-toe black leather. Buyers are sharing in the thrills of this inspired colour as runways explode with orange; paired with shades of white, black, and purple - but most prominently with blue, specifically azure.

According to the colour wheel theory, azure is orange's complementary colour; when azure and orange are combined they create a dynamic - almost pulsating - effect. For example, Vincent van Gogh used the two colours quite prominently in many of his works - such as the Self-Portrait (1889) - which are known to rattle the viewer's senses. Missoni's S/S 2012 collection features bold painting-like patterns of multiple colours and shades - black, white, azure, cobalt, orange, and yellow are splashed onto dresses. The looks are tied together with orange detailing on shoes, earrings, headwear, and handbags. 

Hermès: Be bold in head-to-toe Orange.

Orange is a stimulating colour. In the Hindu religion, the Sacral Chakra - the area located beneath the naval - is represented with orange. This area is responsible for sexual organs and the reproductive system; having a healthy Sacral Chakra is to possess high fertility and inherent creativity. Orange's stimulating property also increases competitive drive, as travel author and radio personality Michael Patrick Shiels comments: "Orange, it seems, may be the best colour choice for the competitive player… orange is jovial, warm, energetic, forceful, and has a subjective impression of exuberance. It is associated with fruitfulness, adventure, vigour and wholesomeness..." The richness of this colour is well appreciated in the Netherlands, a nation where the colour orange represents royalty. Its regal nature is sure to elevate the status of your closet. It seems that orange is the enigmatic superhero of society's cultural palette.

Even though it is undoubtedly a colour that evokes strong "like" or "dislike" opinions, it is not a colour to be dismissed. Although its detractors may label it tacky, loud or arrogant, they underestimate its allure. With its strong psychological and emotional benefits, orange is to be embraced for spring, a time traditionally known for shedding old ideas and habits. What perfect timing to rediscover the pure joy of orange.



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