Ready to Wear: Pink used to be for Barbie dolls and sugar plum fairies

By Susannah Frankel
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:04

Pink. It’s the colour of the spring/summer season. And it’s far from the preserve of elitist circles. You can’t move for this less-than-neutral shade at the school gates where peony pink T-shirts and cardigans have replaced anything more sombre in hue.

Time was pink brought out an allergic reaction in any woman who thought herself even remotely emancipated. Pink was for Barbie dolls and sugar plum fairies.

That is clearly the case no longer. Executives (male), meanwhile, now wear pink shirts on the office floor just as they once chose the more obviously conservative sky blue, white or striped variety. For the opposite sex, wearing pink was formerly some sort of signifier of New Man-ship. Sugar and spicy pink was predominantly just for girls. It’s now so commonplace, however, that it appears about as radical a statement as a navy blazer.

Why has this happened? Not only does pink evoke a warm response from any onlooker, reminding her or him of delicate garden flowers, fiery sunsets and cupcakes – of gorgeous things – it also reflects warmly on its wearer being kinder on the majority of skin tones than any other colour in the spectrum. Yellow, for example, is a far more complex creature as, of course, is poisonous green.

Pink is, well, pretty, for want of a better word, from the palest candyfloss variety to bright fuchsia. It’s small wonder, given the far from rosy economic and political climate that it is the colour to see and be seen wearing and looks set to remain that way for some time to come.

On the catwalk, pink comes in myriad guises. At Chanel sugared almond pink twin-sets, Jackie O tweedy coats and boucle wool skirt suits replaced Mademoiselle’s monochromatic signature – the famously fierce Gabrielle Chanel, it’s safe to assume, was a woman for whom pink was strictly off limits. Dolce & Gabbana’s circular-shouldered, lipstick pink brocade jackets were a witty take on the power dressing Dynasty look if ever there was one. Luella Bartley’s pink was flowery – Liberty-print style – matched with candy striped trousers. Richard Nicoll gave his following everything from masculine pink tailoring to chic but simple ankle-length column dresses.

It should come as no surprise that John Galliano’s pink came in a hyper-real raspberry and with sleeves bedecked with tiny ruffles. The designer proposes that his tunic dress might best be worn with a Shirley Temple wig tied with an (also pink) bow.

For any woman not quite ready for such an extreme take on girlishness, the most fashionable way to wear pink is to keep it muted, the colour of nothing more obviously feminine than Germolene.

Here everyone from Lanvin again to Giles Deacon, Chloe and Christopher Kane are happy to oblige.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments