When Pantone, the world-renowned authority on colour, announced Marsala as the ‘Colour of the Year 2015’, we knew we’d be seeing the deep red make an appearance at seasonal showcases around the world. “Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability… a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us into its embracing warmth,” stated Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of Pantone Colour Institute. Much like the earthy wine the hue derives its name from.
But as fashion designers and style followers will likely tell you — marsala, oxblood, cherry, claret, garnet, maroon, berry, crimson, vermillion or poppy – the colour red, by any other name, would still be as alluring and enticing. No wonder, international Fall runways bled various gradations of red, with Hermes leading the way with quilted jackets and cashmere blanket coats. John Galliano’s debut show at Maison Margiela saw marsala hued sequinned dresses and mesh tops over feathered skirts. While Tory Burch played with Morocco-inspired prints and spangled gowns, Rebecca Minkoff was all about fringes, capes and leather in shades of oxblood.
Hot hints of bright red raised temperatures in the form of Dolce & Gabbana’s rose studded numbers, Alexander McQueen’s lacy racy gowns, Saint Laurent’s polka dot dresses, Versace’s pillarbox red pieces paired with thigh high patent boots and Miu Miu’s snakeskin jackets. And while ruby-hued rushes were also seen at Roland Mouret, Tommy Hilfiger and Emilio Pucci, back home too designers chose to romance red this season.
A colour that universally signifies danger and all things amorous takes on an auspicious and festive fervour in India. The hue has played muse to many a Couture Week and Bridal Week collection. While Rohit Bal’s ‘Husn-e-Taa’iraat’ saw ruby red blossoms embroidered onto ensembles and embellished velvet making a strong statement, Tarun Tahiliani’s “Our Eclectic New World’ offered new-age brides a profusion of lightweight scarlet lehengas. Couturiers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s bridal collection ‘Varanasi’ saw them showcase a capsule of blazing vermilions — “India’s signature bridal hue, the colour of anointment, of Abhishekam, of sindoor” — as the culmination of their Banaras journey. Strains of a deeper, more romantic oxblood were seen in the couture collections of Manish Malhotra, Monisha Jaising and Gaurav Gupta.
But if fire-engine red or a glamorous garnet may not be your colours du jour, they can easily punctuate another trend of the moment – monochrome. Black and white, with the occasional hint of red, is a look that many designers have favoured for Fall. Ankur and Priyanka Modi, of AM:PM, presented a minimalistic, monochromatic line inspired by Mughal architecture and sheesham wood inlay work, and used red to add a hint of drama. Tahiliani’s ready-to-wear line saw dark colours co-exist with bright reds in the form of draped dresses and trail skirts. Vintage gilets and hand-woven capes wore deep reds to balance out the sombre blacks, browns and mustards. Nachiket Barve, who used marsala as a highlight in ‘Chiaroscuro’, his Autumn-Winter line inspired by play of light and shadows, swears by the richness of the hue. “Red is a significant part of our culture, customs, heritage and visual lexicon. Marsala also compliments many hues of skin across the gamut of races, ethnicities and ages,” said Barve.
So, this autumn-winter, use this colour to “add a patina of sophistication” as Barve recommends, or do as Bill Blass says: “When in doubt, wear red.”