“Reining Men’s Fashion”: The Texture

“Reining Men’s Fashion”: The Texture

The LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) has a sumptuous show entitled, “Reining Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715 – 2015“, on view through August 21, 2016. See this show! You will be enthralled and astounded and richly gratified by colors, fabrics, shapes,  patterns…and…textures!

I am fascinated by the use of texture, materials and the relationship between the two.  This show has some intriguing examples of such relationship.

WEBaSilk ribbons used to bundle cigars, transformed into a jacket.WEBb

WEBcEmbroidered hats, inspired by the “Fez“, apparently.

WEBdShowing the tailoring as part of the design…style which utilized rusticity  in the service of elegance.(Or is it the other way around?)

WEBeExtraordinary application of pearly buttons on garments…inspired by the “Pearly Kings and Queens” (The “Pearlies“)

WEBfGreen brogues, anyone?

Repeat: don’t miss this show. At the very least, it is pure fun, but so much more than that. not that fun should be at the bottom of our list of what to love in an exhibition, or anything, for that matter.

You will see here that fun, intrigue, history, sociology, costume and visuals are all intrinsically entwined.

And who would have it any other way?

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Color: Culture, Trends, and You


Color: Culture, Trends, and You

Over the summer, during our “Color Muze” segments on Artistically Speaking Talk Show,  we have focused on the Color Experience Pyramid, as outlined by color expert, Frank H. Mahnke of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers .

As described in the posts, “Pyramid Scheme”  and “The Embodiment of Color”, we experience color on a number of different levels, and Mr. Mahnke has developed a  ” pyramid scheme”  to organize them. This schemata looks like a  broad-based triangle, and is composed of six levels, starting at the wide base with our biological responses to a color stimulus, and ending at its pointed tip, with our personal relationship to  color.  In other words, the Pyramid levels move from the general to the specific.

Here’s to the red, white and blue…and, yellow!?

We are influenced by our cultures, and this affects how we experience and use color, and our emotional response to it.   Top 1 Oil, a company that produces and provides, you got, it, petroleum products, uses the colors of the American flag in its logo, along with sunny, optimistic, and energetic yellow.   Do we feel energetic when we view this logo?

In addition to presenting a logo and branding that encompass all three primary (red, blue, yellow) colors,  supported by white, aka, purity, this color combination reads patriotism plus.  The yellow adds brightness and warmth, relating to an image of golden oil. What a message of hopefulness, buoyancy, energy (oil = fuel,/sunlight = energy = fuel) and forward movement!

Very few of us, no matter how individual we may want to, or feel ourselves to be, can resist at least some influence of current fashions and trends. The  Color Marketing Group (CMG) mwebsite states that they are ” the premier international association for color design professionals. Our mission is to create color forecast information for professionals who design and market color. ”  There is a whole world of those forecasting the next color trend, or “color of the year”, and like it or not, they exert great influence over what we see on the runways, on the road, on our walls, and even  on our bodies.

Yet, what goes into these trends?  There must be some combination of cultural experience, current events, environmental states, and the impact of history that informs them.

Mid-Century … modern once upon a time…

As I share in my post, Featured Work: “Mid-Century Retro”:   Starburst, Atom, or Tinkertoy?Mid-Century Modern design style, both in its “original’ format more than a half a century ago, and in its many personalized revivals, encompasses specific colors, textures, shapes, and patterns.  These comprise a style or trend, that was fresh, “a la mode”, and au courant” at one time, and has now become retro, beloved by some, whimsical to others, fun and even intriguing to many.

Paradoxically, Mid-Century Retro and its accompanying earth tones, burnt oranges, grey and gold hues can be seen as a current trend or fashion, even though its original style is no longer fresh and new, or in the van guard.  The fact that this style is nostalgic (depending on when you were born…or, not) can, pun intended, color our emotional and aesthetic response to the palette.

Finally…to the personal..our Personal Relationship to Color….

So, why do we love what we love?

I quote Frank Mahnke, who says, “…the “color experience”, or, how we experience color, is made up of the inter-relationship and connection of all the levels of the pyramid….we, within our life and according to mood, change color preference….An expression through color…characterizes us, and gives an indication of who we are as individuals.’

Serving up some  specific Color Choices…

Bright colors on an exterior mural….what the client wants to see outside her kitchen window…

The purple sunset sky desired by a young girl for her bedroom ceiling….

Magical colors on the exterior of a building brightening the foggy weather…

Knowing the “theory”…, color theory that is, can help us make these choices, and feel as though we are on the “right”  track.

Our experience of color through nature  is direct, primal, and  visceral.  Also, most likely, backed up by theory, if we really look at it.

Nature, color and art, are they separable?  What do You think?

What is the influence of culture and trends on your personal relationship to color?

If you are so moved, please share about it with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all coloring in this thing called Life, together.





Pyramid Scheme

 Pyramid Scheme

We experience color on a number of different levels, and Frank H. Mahnke of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers has developed the ultimate pyramid scheme to organize them.  Called the “Color Experience Pyramid“, the schemata looks like a broad-based triangle, and is comprised of six levels, starting at the wide bottom with our biological responses to a color stimulus, and ending at its pointed tip, with our personal relationship to  color.  In other words, the Pyramid levels move from the general to the specific.

At the base of the Pyramid, and perhaps at the base of our psyches, we have our biological reactions to a color stimulus. These reactions are not controllable.  They may be considered part of our “biological, or evolutionary heritage”, having to do with survival.  Color, a source of information and communication, is also a signal.  During mating season, the males of certain bird species develop large red throat pouches, which serve as a warning or threat signal to other males, as well an attraction signal to the females.  We can find a parallel to this in our response to red as both a danger, and erotic symbol. Wow. This IS complex.

Moving up the Pyramid, we next reach the level of the collective unconscious, a term coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.  The contents of the collective unconscious have never been conscious to us during our lifetimes.  This level of experience has to do with archetypes, or the original, ” universally understood symbols or terms or patterns of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated.”.   These might be understood also as “primordial“, or first images, and do not emerge  from our personal histories, experiences, or intellect.  In other words, these responses, or experiences of color are also not conscious, or controllable.  Don’t we have any control over this stuff at all?

Well, turns out, we do. The next level up is our experience of conscious symbolism and associations with color. Yay! We are finally conscious!  Well, these responses to color could be seen as learned, and some may be seen as universal…blue=water|sky,, green = nature, yellow = sun.  All we need to do is look around  us, and we can see why.  So, although these responses are conscious, they may not be controllable, as some color association  may be deeply ingrained in our sensory life experinece, and reinforced by repetition of those experiences. .  However, these associations and symbols have a profound importance and effect upon us, as they may effect what we buy, eat, wear, value, and drive!


How does the role of culture, even specific regions, affect our experinece of color? Cultural influences and mannerisms comprises the  fourth level up the Color Experience Pyramid.   Although universal responses are surprisingly consistent, it is fascinating to look at the effect of our specific culture, group or tribe on our color responses,  experiences, choices and usage.  The colors of powerful symbols such as flags (and peace signs!) may play into this, as well as the hues representing specific holidays, or even religions. Perhaps the colors of our terrains, such as black sands, and red rocks play into this as well.  First there was the environment, and then there were the people, so…

The influence of trends, fashion and styles is the next level up the Pyramid. Now we get to the fun stuff, right?   Although trends, and such, are seen as temporary, and may well be (otherwise, why would they be called trends?!), these influences do effect our color experinece. These color trends, fashions or styles may have little or nothing to do with supportive color design, and certainly should not be applied to any and every environment, product, object, graphic or work of art across the board. The interesting thing to me about the trend phenomena is, how and why do they arise?  Are they a response to something in the culture? The economy? The weather? Are they a part of human evolution?  Do tell!

Finally, we get to the apex of the triangle…aka, Pyramid.  What is our personal relationship to color,  and how is it influenced by the five levels below?  Apparently our personal “color experience” is indeed made up of the interrelatedness of all of the Pyramid levels, conscious and unconscious. Although our color preferences can be seen as an expression of who we are, they can also change as we change and move through different stages of our lives.  As color is a function of light, it is a form of energy, and thus affects our total being,  physically, emotionally, psychologically, aesthetically. Thus our color experience encompasses all levels of our lives.

  As we develop, transform and transcend, our color preferences will express those changes, and just perhaps, become barometer of our  growth, and a reflection of our inner striving, struggles, and radiance.  Viva la Coleur!

What levels of the Color Experience Pyramid can YOU relate to? 

If you are so moved, please share them with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all experiencing this colorFULL thing called Life, together.