Is pink punk or pretty?


18 November 2018

“Pink provokes strong feelings of attraction and revulsion”. It is the most divisive of colors. Our ideas of pink have changed constantly during history in culture, art and fashion.

Did you know that in the 17th century, the Chinese word for pink meant “foreign color”, that in Japan it is the symbol of the slain samurai, and that in Korea it is interpreted as a sign of trustworthiness?

In the English language, pink only entered the vocabulary as a noun in the 17th century. It’s presence was limited in nature and it only became known when it was introduced in art and textiles…

In fashion, it became popular in the 1700s appearing extensively in the fashion and in interior design. Georgian gowns for women and embroidered silk coats for heeled men at Louis XVIs court were common. In the 18th Century, it was said to be uplifting and restorative for  well-to-do gentlemen to use it in their decoration.

Where does the color come from? Christina Olsen, director of WCMA and

“When we see pink, we’re not seeing actual wavelengths of pink light,” explains Christina Olsen, the outgoing director of the WCMA (Williams College Museum of Art), says : “It’s an extra-spectral color, which means other colors must be mixed to generate it.” Pink can have various hues and these are the result adding or subtracting yellow and blue tones from a wide spectrum of colors.

But pink has had its stories. In the 18th century the pastel-loving bourgeoisie loved it, both men and women. Think of Madame de Pompadour with her “Pompadour pink”...

It was only in the 20th century that marketing campaigns in the US depicted that pink was for girls and blue was for boys, just for generating more sales...

In the 1900s, pink was pale and was perceived as girly, harmless, cute, sweet and innocent and dominated most little girls lives. In the 1960s, pink became fuchsia and was expressed through Pop Art and Warhol. In the 1990 it was fluo, neons and flashy pink, before turning into a pale post-gender “Millennial Pink” last year in honor of a generation. The pink millennial movement, has transformed an attitude towards women to a global trend and women’s and menswear, and depicted as cool for everyone.

Today, pink has also come to represent women’s empowerment, from the little pink cat-eared hats of Missoni to the “on Wednesdays we wear pink” movement abundantly communicated on all social media.

In fashion it is currently celebrated in the exhibition (until January 5th) in the Museum at FIT (NYC), Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color with pink fashion pieces by Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Jeremy Scott, and Rei Kawakubo. The exhibition looks at 300 years of pink in fashion history and how it has been perceived.

See the video by Dr. Valerie Steele.

If you want to know more about are colors and access looks that could suit you, go and discover our Colorbird Styling Coach.

©I-DYLIC. Article by Eleonore Vadon