Black Is The New Black, The Old Black, And A Constant

August 19, 2013 § 7 Comments


August 19, 2013

How many times have you heard that “gray is the new black“, or “brown is the new black” or even “red is the new black”? I can tell you that in my professional career I have heard this said season after season. The truth is black is a constant, staple, mainstay, and essential to every wardrobe.

I just roll my eyes when I hear comments like these because black is part of the color foundation of material society. 

Black is here and never went anywhere and won’t be going any time soon.

However, earlier this week I was going through my archives and found that I, at one time, had indeed written: “Black is Back!” for the first edition of a newsletter that I edited as the newly-appointed executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. But it was at a time (1986) when black had truly had been diminished for a short time, at least, interior and fashion-wise and was coming back in full force. The following is an excerpt that includes comments from some of the designers (fashion and interior) that I spoke with who shared their thoughts about black.

“Black has become the greatest neutral, it brings an accent point into a space. To me, black is a very exciting and lively hue. I believe it is also powerful and authoritative.”-Vicente Wolf of Patino-Wolf Associates.

Donna Karan believes black provides the perfect foundation upon which to assemble a wardrobe or single outfit. Black defines the silhouette and goes with everything. Like a painter’s canvas, it is the essential backdrop on which to build.

Designer Halston comments: “Black is the most classic and eternal-it is all colors. Black cannot be penetrated. It is the ultimate color in high fashion.” He states he could use it all the time. There is no replacement. The most important and interesting piece in his collection is always black. He likes to work while wearing black because it does not compete with other colors. As long as he has been in the industry, black has always been his number one seller.

Photo by Roxanne Lowit – © 2011 - Tribeca Film

Photo by Roxanne Lowit – © 2011 – Tribeca Film

The dichotomy of black is also shown through historical happenings. The Reagans, Princess Di and Prince Charles have helped to make black-tie formality fashionable again. At the opposite end of the social scale, young people, from beatniks to rockers to punks, have adopted black as a symbol of the negation of a society.

 Whether the ultimate in chic, or in the expression of adolescent defiance, black wields a powerful psychological force in the current world of design and color.

These sentiments about black are just as true today as they were more than 25 years ago!!

What role does black play in your wardrobe? Do you use black in your decor?

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§ 7 Responses to Black Is The New Black, The Old Black, And A Constant

  • […] Black Is The New Black, The Old Black, And A Constant. […]

  • Barry Cowart says:

    Leatrice, it’s funny that you wrote that in 1986. That year I must have been on trend, because I painted a heavy (24″) black stripe all the way around my bedroom, painted all the furniture black, and accented the upper corners with painted upside down black pyramids and everything else was peach with a touch of gray. I was still living at home with my parents, on a farm, in south Georgia. My mother was less than pleased! I’ll never forget it. I loved it!

    • Leatrice Eiseman says:

      It sounds very 80s, that is for sure. It is a wonderful mother who let you paint and express yourself through color. Thank you for sharing. Do you have any pictures?

  • Hi Lee!
    I absolutely LOVE black …. does this mean my old teen age rebel self has never disappeared????!!!!! 😉 Regardless, I find it a great color to wear as a backdrop upon which I can build anything according to whim or whimsy! It will always be the basis of my wardrobe! Loved this post! Of course, I love all your posts!
    xo diantha

    • Leatrice Eiseman says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Diantha. I love to wear black when I travel. It is a no brainer! Embrace that inner rebel.

  • I wear frequently black pants with colorful tops, or a black cashmere sweater with gray pants. I think it’s hard to have more than one black item on at a time since blacks never quite match. It drives my husband crazy if I try it. The only way is to wash a set of items that were bought together exactly the same way each time. I don’t worry about black shoes, purses, or wool coats, just other fabrics.

    • Leatrice Eiseman says:

      It is quite difficult to match blacks. Sometimes you can do it when different textures but often it is easier said than done.Sounds like your husband has an eye for color. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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