clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:


The tyranny of mauve is over!

That's the word from Vivian Kistler, a member of the Color Marketing Group, an organization that helps decide which colors we wear and decorate our homes in.At a recent seminar at the 12th annual New York "Artexpo" - an art dealers' trade show - Kistler took her audience through a lively tour of the colors of the past, the colors we lived with and then lived to regret.

Remember the avocado and federal gold of the 1960s? The vivid primary colors of the 1970s? And who could forget the long-running reign of mauve and gray through the 1980s?

There's no doubt that mauve is now dead as a fashion color, Kistler said. Even firms that manufacturer rubber and plastic kitchen products such as dish drainers are phasing out their mauve lines, she said.

Colors for the beginning of the 1990s will represent a pendulum swing away from mauve, with rich "jewel" colors like teal, rose and copper leading the way, Kistler said.

These "royal, opulent" colors also will herald the return of certain fabrics, including tapestry, velvet and damask, which didn't work with pastel tones.

Other new color "groups," according to Kistler, will include:

- "Fruit and floral," with still lifes as a design theme. Big colors in this group will be indigo, ecru and brick red.

- "Ethnic," playing on the increased popularity of genealogy. This group will feature fabrics with loads of details and intricate patterns, as well as "clay-based" colors and "good oranges."

- "The real Southwest." Kistler argues that the "real Grand Canyon is not mauve," and that this group will reflect the true colors of the Southwest: terra cotta, periwinkle and sage green.

"In the past six or seven years, we have been `mauved' to death," Kistler said, laughing. "Everything has been pasteled."

The pastels reached their logical conclusion with rooms and prints that were "white on white on white," Kistler said. "That is as far as you can go. Now we can go back to colors."

New colors are first tested on clothes, where it's easier and cheaper for manufacturers to backtrack if a particular hue doesn't sell, Kistler said.

Everyone has certain favorite colors. For example, someone who loves the Southwest may be wild for earthy pastels.

On the other hand, certain colors spark loathing in people who associate them with something unpleasant, Kistler said. The traditional colors of many parochial school uniforms - navy and kelly green - have that effect on some people, although she added that these same people often return to those colors "for security" later in life.

But people also can be taught to like certain colors, even the most unlikely shades, Kistler said. One recent example is lime green, which has been included in the clothes collections of several top designers.

"If people will accept that color for their clothes, then they will accept it for their home," Kistler said. "The final trend-setter is the consumer and if she didn't buy those acid green jackets, that color wouldn't be hot today."

Kistler stressed to her art dealer audience that it makes good business sense for them to keep up with color trends.

"We like to think that all art is sold for art's sake, but we know it is sold to match the couch," she said.

Given the hesitancy of many people in choosing art or even walking into a dealer's showroom, Kistler also advised her audience to learn to "read" customers' tastes by the colors of their clothes.

Kistler recounted the recent car-buying saga of her niece, who went into a showroom one day and found nothing she liked. A sharp-eyed car salesman asked her to return the next day, saying he would have the car for her.

She returned the next day, and there it was, the car she had been looking for. What had the dealer done? He had noted the day before that Kistler's niece was dressed entirely in tans and seen that there wasn't a tan car in the showroom. So he ordered one for the next day, which Kistler's niece purchased on the spot.

"If even a guy in a bad plaid suit can figure this out, so can you," Kistler said.