Love in the time of colour

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be red and heart-shaped. If you really want to impress the one you love, make up your own romantic colour scheme.
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The Independent Online

I once wooed a girl with purple. She wore purple in bed, you see. Only I knew this; well, me and the stockbroker who was also her intermittent date. I was an impoverished writer. Going purple was an act of desperation. Every hour of St Valentine's Day I sent her an exotically-wrapped purple gift: a purple candle, a purple bowl of sugared violets, a bottle of Parfait Amour... It was my imperial gifts against the stockbroker's pink roses. I won. Then I gave her two pink babies. The bank called in my credit cards.

I once wooed a girl with purple. She wore purple in bed, you see. Only I knew this; well, me and the stockbroker who was also her intermittent date. I was an impoverished writer. Going purple was an act of desperation. Every hour of St Valentine's Day I sent her an exotically-wrapped purple gift: a purple candle, a purple bowl of sugared violets, a bottle of Parfait Amour... It was my imperial gifts against the stockbroker's pink roses. I won. Then I gave her two pink babies. The bank called in my credit cards.

The beneficiaries of St Valentine's Day are not the recipients of gifts but the con artists who give them, provided they can stand out from the crowds of suitors. The best way is to abandon the pre-packaged love-bunny tradition. Choose a new love colour scheme. Red is all very well, but it's a cliché and has already given your love-object a headache.

I'm not suggesting you use purple. Purple's mine. Get your own colour. Remember the moods of love: the sorrows, the furies, the jealousies, the grey areas, the colour of his/her eyes. Choose a hue to make them cry.

Once you've got your colour scheme, all manner of unusual gift ideas will suggest themselves. They will be effective if they are spectacular, novel or appropriate to your message. To match the theme, your card may have to be home-made. If it looks a little rough, it will endear. It will be what the Japanese call the wabi - the flawed detail that creates an elegant whole.

Black and White

For style and distinction they can't be bettered. Try: lingerie in either colour from Agent Provocateur (mail order 0870 727 4169) or Harvey Nichols (0207 235 5000); black or white roses bound in cavalo nero; polished spheres of obsidian, the black volcanic glass the Aztecs used (£50 mail order from Ancient Art, 020-8882 1509); or a plate embedded with fossils of the 369-million-year-old orthoceras (Ancient Art, £40); a whole brie cut in the shape of a heart; liquorice from St Valentine's Liquorice Company (www.valentines-liquorice.co.uk), though not for men, as research shows it lowers the male libido; Prestat black chocolate (£2.20, 020-7629 4838); Blavod black vodka (£11.99); a white Dovecote (£430, Forsham Cottage Arks, 01233 820 229), though a pair of doves (£95) can only be ordered for next year; a week at the Ice Hotel in Lapland (46 980 66800, or book through Scantours 020-7839 2927); a dark weekend at the Witchery, Edinburgh's deliciously gothic hotel (0131 225 5613); a white cotton shirt from Agnÿs B (from £52, 7225 3477); the Beatles' White Album; a bottle of Greenwich Gin, Cointreau and a basket of lemons for making a White Lady; a plaster head of Eros (£165, www.britishmuseum. co.uk).

 

BLUE

For anyone undergoing the pin-sweet melancholy of love or love lost. Try: a glass container filled with ultramarine pigment (Cornelissen & Son, 020-7636 1045); Evisu jeans (from £105, Selfridges, 020-7629 1234); blue glass stalagmite light from Christopher Wray (£995, 020-7836 6869); a blue movie, a Les Liaisons Dangereuse-type that makes you think about sex; Blue, by Joni Mitchell, or if that's too blue, Almost Blue, by Elvis Costello.

 

GREEN

From one who has been jealous but intends to win, or one who intends to convince someone who has been jealous. Try: a basket of aphrodisiac figs, artichokes, asparagus tips; a pair of Fisher's lovebirds (£45, Dr Dolittle's, 020-8671 6760); a bonsai tree to suggest continuance (£260 for a mature specimen from Whiteways Bonsai Nursery, 01303 862259); pair of green wellies (Millets, £9.99), inside which are travel tickets to Limerick, Ireland and a booking for the organic hotel, Glin Castle (00353 683 4173); Space NK Lily of the Valley Body Cream in a green jar (£59.50); bottle of De Kuyper créme de menthe (£8.99) and ice crusher (£39, John Lewis).

 

YELLOW

Yellow is the colour of my true love's hair, but more importantly, it has been discovered by the Powergen energy company that yellow is the lighting effect which makes us most amorous. The Powergen Love Light won't be available until May, but in the meantime, try: candles; 100 yellow daffodils; mimosa; Dijon mustard; saffron; Nuxe gold leaf powder for body, face and hair (£22, Space NK), Krupnik honey vodka (£17, Prima Deli, 020-7385 2070); gold dragees; Anthony Symmonds's sexy yellow jungle print dress (£450, Academy, 020-7235 7111); a wedding ring.

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