In the early spring in France, we choose for you our favorite color of the season (or maybe just our favorite color?).
In recent years pink has been everywhere in the fashion world. Sometimes the star color of the catwalks, as in the Dior spring-summer men’s fashion show, it remains otherwise the governing principle in recent years. But pink is also the most divided color: people either love it or hate it. It is in part because of the of the objection of stereotypes associated to this color. The way pink is perceived by society has changed over the years, at various times being considered feminine, erotic, kitsch, sophisticated and transgressive.
Pink first became fashionable in the 1700s, when European aristocrats, both men and women, wore it as a symbol of luxury and class. Paris was the center of fashion, and so pink became the ultra-fashionable color. Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV, loved the color so much that in 1757, French porcelain manufacturer Sèvres named its new shade of pink Rose Pompadour after her. So pink is a French color that translates to rose. Pink was not about gender but about class, being fashionable and aristocratic. Men wore it, women wore it. Boys, girls wore it. Interiors were pink.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, French couturier Paul Poiret created pink dresses propelling the shade back into the realm of high fashion.
By the 1950s, pink had become more gender-coded than ever, thanks to branding and marketing in post-war America that used it as a symbol of hyper-femininity, cementing a pervasive “pink for girls, blue for boys” stereotype. The Americans decided that you could really make money out of color-coding children’s clothes.
Pink regained some its allure around the 1960s, when public figures such as Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe adopted it as mark of luxury. Punk bands like The Ramones made it edgier in the 1980s, and in more recent decades, pop, celebrity and hip-hop cultures have embraced the color in different ways: from Madonna performing in a Jean Paul Gaultier soft pink bustier in 1990, to rapper Cam’ron attending New York Fashion Week in a pink mink coat and matching hat in 2002, helping to show that pink could again be considered a men’s color.
Pink has also been embraced as a color of protest and awareness for various other communities. A lot of activist movements have embraced pink as a political color for women. They’re emphasizing they’re girls, and they’re girls empowered. Especially women with a cause. It has become internationally synonymous with the fight against breast cancer, in the form of a pink ribbon.
Pink is going through a generational shift. Europeans and Americans repeatedly describe it as one of their least favorite colors in polls. Nevertheless, there’s a shared recognition that pink can be pretty and powerful, feminine and feminist. Men are turning to it too. We are re-framing pink. Lovers and haters can agree that pink has power. It arouses very strong emotions, whether good or bad. The current trend to return pink to its multifaceted, non-gendered origins gives a glimmer of hope that today’s society is not resistant to change, and that whatever direction the shifting winds of fashion blow next, pink will remain a dream color.