A moving-forward sensibility is finally fueling dressing habits. More and more, wearing something other than soft pants feels appropriate once again, if not necessary, as outside-the-house time increases. As designers and trend forecasters will tell you, this concept fuels spring 2022’s biggest color trends, too. It’s precisely why cheerful pale shades of yellow and lavender, saturated poppy red and tangerine tones, and unexpected hues like chocolate brown feel more lust-worthy than ever.
If this message of optimism sounds familiar, it is: 2021’s color trends carried a similar sentiment. But there are some unique nuances now. “There’s been an increasingly dystopian quality to the last few years,” says designer Jonathan Simkhai. “Technological change is accelerating our lives at unprecedented speeds, creating a world we can barely begin to imagine, or even understand.” In his Spring/Summer 2022 show, Simkhai’s sense of uncertainly translated to elegantly body-skimming pieces in soft blues, yellows, and lupine — the kinds of colors that bring a sense of calm and ease, and perhaps not coincidentally so. “We know that we are living in a time of upheaval — racial injustice, social, political, and environmental — and fashion is the armor that you put on to face your reality,” Simkhai says. “I chose colors based on what fashion looks like when each day feels unhinged and unmatched.”
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Simkhai’s lupine is a good place to start when discussing the other colors trends of the year, as purple — a tone widely associated with everything from nobility to serenity to bipartisan harmony — has a powerful presence. In December, Pantone aptly announced Very Peri as the color of the year for 2022, with good reason — the periwinkle shade is said to embody the world in transition. “Very Peri brings a novel perspective and vision of the trusted and beloved blue color family,” explained the institute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman in the release. She adds that this purple’s hints of violet-red also “displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expression.”
The announcement of Very Peri — a shade that can be seen in the spring collections of Valentino and Marques’ Almeida — also follows a declaration by trend forecasting agency WGSN and Coloro that their selection of 2022’s biggest color is Orchid Flower. Initially projected in 2020, WGSN and Coloro’s 2022 prediction is determined not solely from the fashion runway, according to Joanne Thomas, Head of Content at Coloro. “We use AI and image recognition technology to capture color data from millions of images on social media,” she says.
“Orchid Flower has an intense, hyper-real, and energizing quality that stands out in both real-life and digital settings, versatile enough to work across seasons and continents,” explains Thomas. “In a challenging time, this saturated magenta tone creates a sense of positivity and escapism and embodies the dopamine brights trend peaking across industries as we navigate toward a post-Covid world.” While Thomas mentions Orchid Flower’s cross-industry appeal, fashion is no exception, with the shade appearing in Ulla Johnson and Tory Burch’s spring collections.
Moving away from 2022’s purple reign, designer Alejandra Alonso Rojas shares that green, yellow, and red shades served as inspiration for 2022, even before her Spring/Summer collection materialized. “The color palette was a central part of creating the spring 2022 collection and something I thought about even before I began the design process,” she tells TZR. In addition, the designer cites a personal source of inspiration: her great-great-aunt Africa, one of the first female pilots in Europe. “These colors represent strength, hope, and power,” she says.
Other key color moments that have grown popular include butter yellow, such as that in Simkhai’s spring line. “This tone taps into the appeal of wholesome and nourishing experiences and colors,” says Coloro’s Thomas. She also points to mango sorbet as an increasingly popular 2022 shade. “This yellow-hued orange brings a sense of energy and light to the seasonal palette and taps into a desire for invigorating brights that boost health and wellbeing.” Meanwhile, Thomas expects dark oak to be prevalent on a more neutral front in the coming years. “It has a nostalgic undertone, inspired by dark lacquers and antique finishes,” she explains, suggesting that the color is timeless enough to stand up to fashion’s quickly moving trend cycle.
In the spirit of looking ahead, it’s also worth arguing that perhaps more than one of the aforementioned color themes will have a longer life than just a few seasons of popularity (pale yellows and orange were prominent in 2021 collections, too, after all). “I don’t typically follow trends, but I’m excited that designers are taking steps toward a slower fashion system,” says Rojas, who creates two annual collections compared to most brands’ four or more. “As designers, we are motivated to be more intentional with our designs and deliberate in our creative process, and how we work with color is directly affected by that.”
This intentionality might be one of the best indications of where color goes in 2022 and beyond, as far as experts can tell. “Rooted in the appeal of everyday pleasures and indulging the senses, a crisis period has led to a reset and a new focus on what we value most in life,” says Coloro’s Thomas of 2022. “Time with friends and family feels more precious, and the items that we cherish have a deeper meaning. As a result, colors this season have an authentic richness and are grounded with a sense of optimism.”
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