My painter friend, the Kandinsky Kid, is a colour drunk. The house is a riot of strange pinks and reds, darker blues juxtaposed with terracotta, duller greens with crimson and ochre.
There are always flowers and she is the only person who has ever summoned me for a cup of tea in order to thrust into my arms a perfectly nice garment but all the wrong colours for her, thank heaven it was cheap. ”Can’t wear it, the colour is wrong, I should never have bought it.” And I know just what she means.
When I think about colours, I think about all those great bowls of different spices and dyes you always see in pictures of India.
It was remarked that the observations of the first “ The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel “ were clichéd (I loved it) and I have never met anyone who has experienced colour in India without commenting on it. Colour is intrinsically part of nature – trees, flowers, shadows, wood, feathers, the coats of animals, how many shades of green? – but I used to be very conservative about it because the quality of a colour matters a great deal to me. And I have said before that I would rather have one good thing than ten cheap ones, The phrase “it will do” is not in my vocabulary. Start with dissatisfaction, end with disappointment.
In my youth I wore a lot of black and navy, I used to think indigo was brave – but I have learned the hard way that I can’t do it any more.
I look as if I have been exhumed.
I have begun to play with khaki and sulphur, mango and mulberry, in the house and on me. The names are often as inviting as the colours themselves (ie dark green fishnet tights called nobu, after Japanese seaweed). Am I the only person who enjoys the names of lipsticks and nail polishes, even if I can’t wear them – and I am looking forward to trying to follow up the strange almost rhubarb of a ring shawl (so fine it passes through a ring) I’ve been given. Part of the reason I am excited about it is because generally pink is flat and this isn’t.
Invited to my first tv appearance for a while, I wore an orange cardigan, a colour nothing to do with coral or pink, I wore the shadow on the oranges… And the second time I wore pimento.
These are colours you need under those draining lights if you have grey hair, if you are never going to see fifty again and the skin has begun to change.
Though a woman who just lost most of her possessions in a fire describes her eyes filling when her colourist “banished the greys” and there’s an ad that promises “no more greys.” But this is grey hair so whatever the shade, it has other meanings too.
Whereas in furnishing terms grey, beige and black are Britain’s favourite colours and the colour psychologist who came up with the finding isn’t happy about it at all.
“If we were to live in a world without colour” said Karen Haller (the quote is from The Times and I have checked it with her) “ we would switch off all natural human feelings and emotion, and in essence, lose touch with who we really are.”
Stand up, Isis, men and women sealed in black.
“Colour is light” said Karen Haller “ and when it passes through the eye it becomes an emotional experience.”
You only have to see the same colour in a range of different materials to understand how colours change. Years ago Vogue sent the writer Clive James to cover the fashion shows in Paris and he was knocked out by the colours, breathtaking in their impact and depth because cotton, silk and wool hold and reflect dyes differently, and of course put together in all sorts of wonderful ways.
The affectionate send up of the fashion maven Diana Vreeland in the film “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire was celebrated with a song called
“Think Pink”and it was Mrs. Vreeland who baptised this piece.
These are the last days before the cold fades and spring begins.
Bring on the zing, great fix for a tired psyche, power through colour.
*the navy blue of India.