“I believe in pink.”
Audrey Hepburn, in Vogue
“Banish the black, burn the blue, and bury the beige
From now on….think pink! Think pink!
Red is dead, blue is through
Green’s obscene, brown’s taboo
And there’s not the slightest excuse for plum or puce
So sang Kay Thompson (as Maggie Prescott) in the 1957 musical romantic comedy Funny Face, which starred Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Loosely based on real-life Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Maggie Prescott is the high-strung publisher of fictional Quality Magazine, and is on the quest of the next big fashion trend, a “beautiful and intellectual” new look for the magazine, and models who can “think as well as they look.” After all, she says, “The great American woman stands out there naked, waiting for me to tell her what to wear.” In a sudden flash of inspiration, she stumbles on “pink” as the latest rage in haute couture, and then proceeds to perform the solo number “Think Pink” with a dance chorus.
Back in 2011, the Pantone Color Institute declared “Honeysuckle Pink” as the color of the year. Pantone, whose annual color trend forecasts set the direction for consumer products and designs, described pink as a healthy and uplifting shade that inspires fun and confidence.
The etymological root of pink is a flowering plant of the Dianthus genus called “pink” (but of course!), which is characterized by frilled edges on its petals. In the 14th century, “to pink” meant “to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern,” which is why scissors which cut a zig-zag line are referred to as “pinking shears.” It was only during the 17th century, however, that this word was used to denote a color. That said, it did appear as early as the 13th and 14th centuries in women’s fashion and religious art. William Shakespeare, who penned Macbeth in 1606 , used the word “incarnadine” in Act II, Scene 2, which Merriam-Webster defines as “having a pinkish color.”
Coral, a pinkish shade of orange, was first recorded as a color descriptor in 1513, and takes its name from precious undersea corals with a similar hue. Shakespeare, describing his beloved in Sonnet 130 in 1609, writes “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; coral is far more red than her lips’ red…” in an apparent parody of conventional poetry’s then concept of ideal beauty.
Who among our lady pen enthusiasts (or even the gentlemen) did not frolic with Barbie (or Ken) dolls in their childhood years? When Mattel Toy, Inc. first introduced the fashion doll in 1959, it unwittingly set into motion a number of things – over a billion dolls would be sold worldwide, Andy Warhol’s painting of Barbie would be auctioned off at Christie’s for well over US$ 1 million, her 36-inch breast size would create a moral controversy and give rise to the “Barbie Syndrome,” and the color of her logo and packaging would become the iconic “Barbie Pink.”
Feeling hostile? In the 1960’s, Dr. Alexander Schauss investigated the psychological and physiological human responses to the color pink, based on a theory that a person’s color choices reflect his personality. In a study titled “The Physiological Effect of Color on the Suppression of Human Aggression,” Dr. Schauss postulated a reverse theory that color could cause emotional and hormonal changes, and later discovered that a particular shade of the color pink profoundly affected a person’s pulse, respiration and heart rate. So in a 1979 experiment as a US Naval correctional institute, Dr. Schauss proved that the erratic behavior of violent and aggressive inmates substantially diminished after only a 15-minute isolation in a pink-painted room. Thus was born “Baker-Miller Pink, ” named after the correctional institute’s directors Baker and Miller. Talk about nursing the mentally ill back into the pink of health!
In 1931, surrealist Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli created a hot new version of the color, producing “Shocking Pink” by combining magenta with a small amount of white. She also launched a perfume called Shocking in a bottle shaped like a woman’s torso, famously rumored to be modelled after Mae West. Schiaparelli was regarded, along with rival Coco Chanel, as one of the most prominent haute couture movers during the era between the two World Wars.
No one quite personified fashion and exuded style as much as Audrey Hepburn, universally recognized as the third greatest female film legend of all time (second only to Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis). While most cineastes remember the Hubert de Givenchy-designed “little black dress” that she wore as troubled Holly Golightly in the opening scene of the 1962 film Breakfast At Tiffany’s, few perhaps recollect the pink silk cocktail dress studded with green rhinestones with a pink bow around the waist, teamed with a collarless three-quartered sleeved coat in the same vibrant color, that she was clad in midway through the movie.
Because the Nazis of Hitler’s Germany considered themselves the superior race, they persecuted and harassed those whom they saw as racially inferior – Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, blacks, Jews and homosexuals. From 1938 onwards, homosexuals who were incarcerated in German concentration camps were marked with pink inverted triangles sewn onto their prisoner uniforms. Pink has become the symbol of the modern gay rights movement, as well as the official color of international breast cancer awareness.
Who was it who said “If it isn’t pink, it isn’t”? Or that “Pink isn’t just a color, it’s an attitude”? Are you a dyed-in-the-wool black or blue fountain pen user? Show off your true colors, because you can never go wrong with a little pink. After all, even classic Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, considered by many as the greatest artist of the 20th century, had his “Rose Period” (1904-1906), during which his works, styled in bright and vivid pinks (“rose” is French for pink), depicted pleasant, cheerful and even romantic themes that contrasted sharply with the somber, desperate and lonely tones of his preceding “Blue Period.” So, think pink!