If we could visualize the year ahead, what color would it be? The abstract thought is an annual consideration for the experts at the Pantone Color Institute, who trawl through high-fashion runways, interior design trends, pop culture moments and human psychology to make their pick.
According to their research, the shade that will come to define 2024 is "Peach Fuzz" - a light, fruity tone that conjures peace and serenity.
"We're going through a lot of turmoil in our lives, and we have a need for a color that's nurturing," Pantone color specialist Leatrice Eisman told CNN over video call. "It's a warm and cozy shade. And it's very tactile. We feel that at a time like this, tactility is really important - to touch other people and gather them into our homes."
Peach tones have been a fixture of the Spring-Summer 2024 runways, particularly in Milan with Italian houses such as Gucci, Jil Sander and Sportmax leading the way. At the Oscars Vanity Fair Afterparty in March, Hilary Duff wore a lingerie-inspired, peach-hued Dolce & Gabbana gown.
Shortly after, Uma Thurman attended the Women Making History Awards in a Prada Fall-Winter 2023 gabardine dress in the same color.
But the research process for color selection is cumulative, and it's not enough to just look at the latest iterations of peach, says Eisman. For Spring-Summer 2016, king of greige Giorgio Armani released a memorable collection where the majority of pieces skewed salmon over the label's signature suit-gray.
The last time we saw Beyoncé at the Met Gala, also in 2016, we saw her in peach. While the puff-sleeved, embellished latex Givenchy gown was criticized by the public at the time, it was a key moment for Eisman and the Pantone team. But what does a red carpet moment in 2016 have to do with the zeitgeist of 2024?
"We felt that (Beyoncé's look) was something that really still had life today," she said. "If we see it in 2016, and we feel that it's a valuable idea that's going to grow, we draw on that idea as well. We don't forget what we've seen before."
Peachy pop culture moments did grow, too. Since then, the color has been worn out on the red carpet by a number of key players. Florence Pugh wore a Spring-Summer 2020 Chloé dress in the shade for the French premiere of "Little Women," while Zo Kravitz's peach Oscar de la Renta column gown worn to the 2020 SAG Awards made headlines for its classic, vintage appeal.
"We think of peach as being a significantly nostalgic color," said Eisman. "More frequently a woman's color. And yet it has been adapted and gathered into men's wardrobes and surroundings. I think that speaks to the modernity of the shade."
For visual evidence of the burgeoning male appreciation of peach, look no further than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Oscars 2023 ensemble. His tuxedo jacket from Dolce & Gabbana was the perfect shade of Peach Fuzz, and in an intrinsically tactical satin fabric.
And for inspiration on how to further update the tone to modern tastes, take a cue from Rihanna and the peach leather mini dress she wore while heavily pregnant in 2022 at the Off-White runway show in Paris.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Pantone's Color of the Year initiative. The color psychology behind Eisman and her team's last three selections have been rooted in endurance, optimism, courage and strength, referencing our continually turbulent times. But capturing the collective mood even in an atmosphere of confusion and anxiety is familiar territory for Pantone.
Afterall, the first Color of the Year was Sky Blue in 1999. "It was wonderful, hopeful, all of those wonderful things you feel when thinking about the future. But there was also that fear that all the clocks were going to stop," she said. "So that was our challenge. But for us it was simple: the color of the sky, the color of the heavens, what lies in front of us."
If 1999 was about embracing the unknown and engaging some blue-sky thinking, Pantone prescribes a quiet retreat inwards for 2024. "In 2023, we celebrated coming out of the malaise of the last year," said Eisman. "We feel that next year, with so much whirling in the atmosphere around us, there will be a need for some quiet, some peace, some respite, and that's what that Peach Fuzz will be for us."
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