Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The Colour Purple


The people have spoken. The Thoughtful Dresser will not address the US election. Well, until the actual day of the election when I observe the right to say my piece.

In the meantime, let us consider Michelle Obama and the colour purple:


Kate Moss is over; Sienna who? The UK high street has decreed that this season's fashion icon is none other than ... Michelle Obama. Sort of.

It's not so much Obama who has prompted such adulation, but a very specific dress of hers: the purple shift she wore in Minnesota in June when her husband clinched the Democratic nomination and she, famously, did the fist-bump with him.

Now, it is no exaggeration to say that this dress caused near hysteria among the fash pack: it prompted the New York Times to write an adoring piece about her wardrobe under the headline "She Dresses to Win". The paper ruminated that the colour was "symbolically rich, even if its message may have been so subtle as to be subliminal".

Symbolism, schmymbolism; that colour looked hot on her, something the high street noted, too. Purple has long been neglected and Obama reminded the world just how flattering it can be. Now everyone's suddenly got a bit of regal Michelle purple (which is very different from Ribena purple). Reiss, for example, has tricked out a gorgeous strapless evening dress in the shade.

I am huge fan of purple, it's THE colour for brunettes and redheads (I used to be the former and am now the latter). If Michelle Obama is the agent by which there is more purple in the shops then it's Go, Democrats, Go!

13 comments:

greying pixie said...

It's not just hair colour that's important though. Skin tone plays a large part. I have olive toned skin and purple looks ghastly on me inspite of my once dark brown now brunette with silver strands hair. I think pinky toned skin looks good with purple, just as it does with navy blue - another colour I cannot wear.

Linda Grant said...

The ones you can't wear are exactly my colours.

Marian D said...

That's funny - I've got pinky-pale skin (with a purple tinge when I'm cold - not pretty!) and I can't go near purple. Coral’s my colour, when I can find the right shade. I just hope I never become first lady of France, the US, or anywhere else that requires me to wear purple to assert my regal status.

greying pixie said...

Well, I suppose we need to ascertain what we mean by 'purple'. The colour of the dress in The Guardian this morning is more like what my mother used to call 'cyclamen'. It has a lot of red in it to make it warm. Or perhaps it's just the quality of the printing ink.

Actually come to think of it, I don't know that there actually is a colour purple. I think violet is the official name.

Linda Grant said...

I think the purple of the Roman imperial robes was made from the crushed shells of some sea creature.

greying pixie said...

Oh, and I forgot to say, whatever the name of the colour, I think it's absolutely superb on Michelle Obama. It sends out all the right messages of a confident, intelligent, professional wife.

greying pixie said...

Linda, or was it the ink from squid?

Linda Grant said...

Just looked up the word purple on wikipedia. Lots of info. No, it's not violet, and it was from a mollusc

gp said...

OK, just did a quick bit of research and purple does indeed exist on the colour index and is in fact very much the colour of THAT dress. So please ignore my previous ramblings.

Susan F said...

Well, whatever it is called, I have been delighted to find purple items back in the shops recently - I love the colour (my daughters think I am obsessed). And I agree with Pixie - she does look fantastic in the frock.

Toby Wollin said...

Purples are like browns for me: Some of them look great and some of them make me look like, as my Mum used to say, "Death warmed over." Browns that have red, orange, gold or a bit of yellow in them are great...browns/tans which have grey in them are awful for me. For me, the purples that work have to be on the blue shift side rather than the red side of things. But I have the feeling that Michelle Obama would look terrific in any color she wanted - she just has this wonderful complexion.

Deja Pseu said...

I'm loving the purple trend as well, though I suspect it was in the offing before Michelle O knocked it out of the park with her dress. For me (redhead with warm skin tone) it has to be a bit more to the reddish than royal blueish end of the spectrum to work.

Kelly said...

I'm surprised that the UK pays attention to US politics. I'll admit that I'm not too politically oriented so maybe I am just being ignorant here. But I've been reading on several UK blogs lately about Michelle Obama and I didn't even think the UK public would be paying too much attention, especially not to the point of caring about her wardrobe!

Agreed, Susan F - it's one of my best colors and I'm thrilled it's coming into fashion just so I have more choices now!