Pantone Picks ‘Ultra Violet’ as Color of 2018

By Associated Press

NEW YORK—With a year of great change and reshuffling almost behind us in 2017, what do we need in 2018? The Pantone Color Institute thinks whatever that might be will come in the deep purple hue of “Ultra Violet,” its color of the year revealed Thursday, Dec. 7.

The color wasn’t chosen because it’s regal, though it resembles a majestic shade. It was chosen to evoke a counterculture flair, a grab for originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking, Pantone Vice President Laurie Pressman told The Associated Press.

“We are living in complex times,” she said. “We’re seeing the fear of going forward and how people are reacting to that fear.”

Pressman wasn’t keen on talking politics. The color, she said, playing out in home design, industrial spaces and products, fashion, art and food, reflects the idea of living not inside the box or outside the box but with no box at all. Specifically, she called the color “that complexity, that marriage, between the passionate red violets and the strong indigo purples.”

Ultra Violet leans more to blue than red and that, Pressman said, “speaks to thoughtfulness, a mystical quality, a spiritual quality.” There’s still a passionate heat from enough red undertones, and a touch of periwinkle, but “it’s really the cool that prevails.”

The 2018 color of the year follows 2017’s “Greenery,” a grassy fresh, revitalizing shade that reflected new beginnings.

Pantone Color of the Year in 2017 was Greenery Pantone 15-0343. (Aleksey Gnilenkov via Flickr)

The purple choice, a la Prince and the glam rock of David Bowie — both of whom died in 2016 — speaks to doing things differently, finding new ways to interpret our lives and surroundings, Pressman said. It also speaks to the pleasing calm of Provence and its purple flower fields.

“I see this as very much an optimistic color, an empowering color,” she said. “We want to find some peace and calm within ourselves. How do we quiet our minds?”

Well, there are meditation studios, some of which rely on violet light that some believe has a power to heal. A company in the United Kingdom has come up with a shower head fitted with the same hue of light that turns bathing into purple rain. There’s an embrace of purple cauliflower and sweet potato, joining eggplant and purple-colored cocktails.

The color has a history that has shifted over the decades, and is often associated with piety, royalty, magic, and mystery.

Photo of Madonna and child, circa 1320. (Giotto di Bondone via Wikimedia Commons)
Portrait of Catherine II of Russia (1729-1796) circa 1780.
(Fyodor Rokotov via Wikimedia Commons)

Purple was used by the Japanese Emperor and his aristocracy.

Portrait of the Japanese Emperor Kōmyō, early Edo period. (By Japanese book 歴代天皇125代 (Rekidai Tennō Hyakunijūgodai), Shin Jinbutsu Ōrai-sha (新人物往来社) via Wikimedia Commons)

It also played a role as the imperial color of the Byzantine Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and was also later worn by Roman Catholic bishops.

Shroud of Charlemagne manufactured in Constantinople in the 9th century. (Anonymous Byzantine artist via Wikimedia Commons)

Photo of fresco where Saint Peter is consecrating Hermagoras as bishop in the presence of Saint Mark, circa 1180. (By Wolfgang Sauber Taken on 20 April 2011) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
Richard Wagner surrounded himself with purple when he composed and Leonardo da Vinci wrote that meditation and prayer were “10 times more powerful if done while sitting in the violet light, shining through a stained glass window.”

Fast forward, and we have Jimi Hendrix and his “Purple Haze,” the penultimate song he played in concert on Sept. 6, 1970, days before his death. Grace Jones, Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Beyonce, Katy Perry with her purple hair and Rihanna have embraced the color, Pressman said.

Ultra Violet represented on fashion runways for fall 2016, continuing into this year’s collections, including those of Alberta Ferretti and Marni. For spring ’18, Kenzo put a model in a bright sleeveless purple dress paired with high black-and-white socks and a yellow handbag.

In beauty, versatile purple is prevalent for eyes, lips and nails. Ultra Violet brings the drama but it’s an easy drama, a non-threatening color, on the body and in the home.

“It’s a color that can be worn by so many different skin tones,” Pressman said.

So who wears it best? Rihanna, Pressman said. Particularly, Rihanna in a 2017 Dior ad with gorgeous violet lips and purple-tinted sunglasses.

“When you think of this color she perfectly sums up the originality, the inventiveness, the forward thinking, the non-conformity,” Pressman said. “The exploration, the expression, the do your own thing. She thinks about things differently than anybody else. No boundaries.”

Past selections for Pantone Color of the Year have been:

  • PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery (2017)
  • PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity and PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz (2016)
  • PANTONE 18-1438 Marsala (2015)
  • PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid (2014)
  • PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald (2013)
  • PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango (2012)
  • PANTONE 18-2120 Honeysuckle (2011)
  • PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise (2010)
  • PANTONE 14-0848 Mimosa (2009)
  • PANTONE 18-3943 Blue Iris (2008)
  • PANTONE 19-1557 Chili Pepper (2007)
  • PANTONE 13-1106 Sand Dollar (2006)
  • PANTONE 15-5217 Blue Turquoise (2005)
  • PANTONE 17-1456 Tigerlily (2004)
  • PANTONE 14-4811 Aqua Sky (2003)
  • PANTONE 19-1664 True Red (2002)
  • PANTONE 17-2031 Fuchsia Rose (2001)
  • PANTONE 15-4020 Cerulean (2000)

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