The romanticism of pink ties in with the overarching mood of the colour — optimism and joy. But how do you wear it? Paul McLauchlan finds out.
The most common question a fashion editor receives is, ‘what is the colour of next season?’
The spring/summer 2020 menswear shows finished up recently and a conclusion has never been so easily drawn. Pink! Pink is the colour of the menswear season.
When the most powerful fashion houses - Dior Men, Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Berluti - concur that pink is the colour to christen the 2020s, you can’t help but sit back and take note.
What’s more, it had nothing to do with emulating femininity.
‘There was an abundance of pink across the SS20 menswear shows in various shades and patterns from bright to pale pink, tie-dye and floral,’ said Olie Arnold, Style Director at Mr Porter, referring to the four-country-wide journey the fashion pack took in June.
From Prada’s pastel sportswear in Shanghai to Givenchy’s streetwear update in Florence and Hermès’ modern answer to workwear in Paris — pink was unmissable.
Of course, pink is a divisive colour, one sure to spark debate amongst men.
Why? The modern connotations of pink are associated with femininity and female interests.
‘It’s a girl’s colour,’ is commonly used in the discussion. Throughout recent history, it has been the colour bestowed upon newborn girls.
However, pink is so much more than a signifier of gender - it’s a viable sartorial option.
This pink moment was forecast — it comes as no surprise that the designers at the forefront of men’s fashion paid attention to the Pantone Color Institute’s predictions.
The colour trend forecasting agency, associated with colour swatch agency Pantone, selected Living Coral as their Colour of the Year for 2019.
“Colour is an equalising lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities and this is particularly true for Living Coral,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.
“With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanising and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial PANTONE Living Coral hit a responsive chord.”
The onslaught of coral is supposed to signal “authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy.”
Similarly, the colour intends to respond to “our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits.”
This shade appeared at Heron Preston (in denim separates) and Issey Miyake Men (in overshirts and oversized t-shirts) during Paris Fashion Week.
Pantone’s other forecasted colour trend is Pressed Rose, intended to evoke romanticism.
This is certainly true of Kim Jones’ sophomore collection for Dior Men.
Male models walked a gradated white-to-pink desert in a purpose-built box in the centre of Paris while guests watched a parade including some pastel pink and coral creations take to the runway.
Jones’ preoccupation with romanticism ties in with the overarching mood of the colour — optimism and joy.
With the realities of Brexit looming large over the future of Ireland and the US presidential campaign heating up across the pond, revelling in simple pleasures such as adding colour to your wardrobe is the kind of political rebellion that will warm your soul in a world that often seems soulless.
Plus with such pressing issues, the sartorial selection of pink is hardly criminal.
“Even the most sombrely dressed men allow themselves the occasional pop of colour; a vibrant hanky, and vivid sock, but for most of us one of the joys of the summer is to ditch the drab and whack on a big splash of bold colour,” said Patrick Grant, creative director at E. Tautz.
His collection, too, was bursting at the seams with bold hues.
The pink wash over the spring/summer 2020 collections should come as no surprise.
As we approach the new decade, these clothes are our first glimpse into what designers foresee men wanting in its nascency.
It also acts as a harbinger of wider change. Prepare for attitudes towards gender to relax, deconstruction of conversations about colour as gendered.
It will put a new spin on a colour which was historically genderless.
“If you go back to the 18th century, little boys and little girls of the upper classes both wore pink and blue and other colours uniformly,” Valerie Steele once told CNN.
Steele, director of the Museum at FIT, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, curated the exhibition ‘Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color’ at the FIT in 2018.
It explored the colour’s place in history from a symbol of wealth in the 18th century to an emblem of female revolution in the aftermath of President Trump’s election.
It wasn’t until the early 20th century in Europe that ‘blue for boys, pink for girls’ became an accepted method of differentiating between the sexes.
“In America by the 1890s and the early 20th century, manufacturers attempted to sell more children’s and infants’ clothes by colour-coding them,” Valerie Steele told CNN.
Now, however, the tide is turning once again. And rightfully - pink isn’t a girl’s colour, that’s an outdated argument.
While society makes what it wants of colour, many parents have adopted gender agnostic colour codes for their children and many other participants in the world of style have followed suit.
As the recent menswear shows have displayed, the trend has reached fever pitch, reaching a harem of stylish men across the globe. Pink is for men too.
If Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s menswear artistic director, one of the most influential fashion designers working today, sends a pink suit down the runway, you can wage a bet that his legions of followers will incorporate pink into their wardrobes somehow.
Ditto, his streetwear compatriot Heron Preston who showed denim jackets in coral or Alyx’s symphony of pastel pink tailoring and sportswear hybrids.
Once you activate the frenzied, trend-led streetwear cache, a trend is destined for a meteoric rise.
And, this time, the trend isn’t only for the streetwear-inclined.
“Tailoring is back in a big way next season and included many styles in several tones — fuchsia tailoring was seen from designers Alexander McQueen, AMI, and Dries Van Noten and there were pastel styles from Amiri, Berluti, Zegna, Givenchy, Stella McCartney and Paul Smith.
Pink co-ords, denim and combat trousers were also seen at Heron Preston, Tom Ford and Isabel Marant,” said Olie Arnold.
Look no further than Alexander McQueen and arrive at a special occasion in a show-stopping fuchsia tuxedo.
That’s one surefire way to garner positive attention in a room drenched in black suiting.
If artistic director Sarah Burton’s proposition is anything to go by, the black suit no longer holds as much relevancy as colour.
In January, the Irish Examiner reported coloured tailoring would dominate 2019.
Here, we see that it’s destined to continue to 2020. Some trends are temporal but pink isn’t one of fashion’s frivolous fads, this one is here to stay.
Are you pink shy? How can you join in on the sartorial movement?
“Pastel pinks are an easy shade to incorporate into your wardrobe if wanting to tip your toe into the trend. I would suggest investing in a bomber jacket, for the braver amongst us, or a camp collar shirt for those looking for an easier approach,” said Olie Arnold.
“Either can be worn with a variety of pieces that you will probably already own, especially with navy.
"Dunhill and AMI offer a great bomber or overshirt option, while Mr Porter’s own label Mr P. offers a lightweight dusty pink camp collar shirt which works nicely when worn with both light and dark colours.”
Patrick Grant advises, “dusty pinks, lemon yellows, peach: men today are enjoying wearing colour and for this season its the softer tones on the 1980s that abound.
"But don’t overload the colour, one or two bold splashes is enough, worn with more neutral navy, olive green or khakis.”
As attitudes towards gender become less strict, colour no longer lays claim to the gender discussion.
Pink is for whoever wants to wear it, no matter the style tribe.
The recent Met Gala said it all: Harry Styles in a sheer blouse; Jared Leto in a crimson Gucci gown; Billy Porter arriving as a modern-day Egyptian sun god - it makes wearing pink look like a simple task.
That’s because it is.