What do the 2012 Olympics, The King’s Speech, and the royal wedding have in common? Each is part of the recent cultural influences that continue to shape color trends.

According to Leslie Harrington, executive director of the Color Association of the United States (CAUS), emerging color palettes are about evolution not revolution. Color shifts from year to year are gradual since dramatic shifts would not be affordable for people to upkeep and stay trendy.

So much time and research goes into selecting emerging color trends that wedding industry professionals can learn a lot from the pros. “We look at the consumer, political, and economic trends that influence behavior,” says Harrington. “We interpret things that influence consumer desire and identify what we think are important trends and the resulting emerging colors.” The CAUS forecasts color trends for manufacturing and retail 24 months ahead since it takes that long for products to go from concept to market.

The fashion and cosmetics industries are also influential, says George Iannuzzi, a chair holder and executive committee member for Color Marketing Group (CMG) and market development manager at EMD Chemicals. “Fashion trends are forecast every six months and 18 months into the future. It rapidly moves from season to season and eventually impacts automotive, consumer goods, and interior palettes.”

From Neutrals to Color Bursts
Groups like CAUS, CMG, and Pantone spend all day, every day, following international events, socioeconomic factors, as well as cultural, arts, and design developments before releasing their color trends. The 2012/13 Color Report from CAUS explores the aging process with colors that are found in nature and range from subdued to bright.  Its seven color stories include purples, yellows, blues, greens, red/oranges, and neutrals. “We’re seeing where we’re going to find a lot more color. Everyone’s hopeful as we move out of the recession period, which will bring a more colorful palette,” says Harrington.

Care to Tango?
The return of bright colors was the focus as Pantone unveiled its Color of the Year—Tangerine Tango. Designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Nanette Lepore, Elie Tahari, and Adrienne Vittadini, are already incorporating the color into their spring collections. “Tangerine Tango provides the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward,” says Leatrice Eiseman, color expert and executive director of the Pantone Color Insititute. She sees it pairing well with unexpected color combinations—an elegant wine color, like Syrah or Rhubarb Red; a greenish blue like Vallarta; or a hot pink like Cabaret for a retro look. “Of course, it’s always great with warm taupey tans like Tiger’s Eye, and a special favorite of mine is a deep, yellow green called Winter Moss. And there is the summertime staple of White Alyssum,” she adds. Pantone also released nine home interior color palettes. “The continuing challenge and goal will be in keeping the consumer visually engaged by blending the playful with the practical. To reach that destination, color is the compass,” says Eiseman.

Boys-n-Berry is CMG’s “Next” Color
The international, not-for-profit CMG proclaimed Boys-N-Berry the “Next” color during its International Summit in September 2011. “Our color received the highest form of validation this past holiday season by being worn in President Obama’s family portrait,” says Ianuzzi. “With black, it is warm and darkly evocative, offering richness and depth, even if it takes us to the dark side of the imagination with vampires and the cosmic black hole. When paired with white, Boys-N-Berry plays well with ermine furs of royalty, stark white sand beaches, and the brightness of lights…Imagine the sophistication that comes with a pearl grey or white pairing. Imagine the fun that comes to mind when it is combined with a clear lime green.”

Though Pantone and CMG have different “it” colors, they are complementary. In January, Vogue Magazine reported Salvatore Ferragamo, used a version of Boys-N-Berry paired with a version of Tangerine Tango in a casual print dress.

Use Trending Colors to Make a Statement
Colors can be used to evoke emotions and enhance mood through décor via floral, tabletops, linens, and fashion. “There, the brides are willing to have color really pop. Yet, they don’t want the room to look like they are going to a prom, so color is added in a sophisticated manner and carried throughout the event.  For example, a centerpiece may be earthy, mossy, and floral with pops of fuschia. Natural elements, like birch branches, may be a soft background.  And the flowers may be dimensional with different tones of a base color,” says Lynda Barness, ABC™, I Do Wedding Consulting of Philadelphia.

Lighting plays up the hues as well. “Recently, we’ve seen long, sheer, soft pastel fabrics hanging from the ceiling and beautifully accented with OLED lights that were gently blown by large fans. This created a surreal atmosphere where attendees interacted with them by either touching or wrapping themselves in them and spinning,” say Ianuzzi.

The bolder colors will translate just fine for potential bridesmaid fashion, and décor, but bridal dresses are an altogether different matter as they tend toward neutrals, says Laura Mease, ABC™, MWV™, Laura’s Couture Collection of Shawnee Mission, Kan. Mease sees mostly muted undertones in bridal attire. “The ones I’m seeing are all one color in the fabric under white or ivory lace—usually blush or taupe.”

No matter your palette, it’s important to realize that the chosen colors have a significant impact. “Color affects how the guests feel,” says Maria A. Lugo, PBC™, a Puerto Rico wedding planner. “Seeing the effect on them is much different if they’re seeing something other than the traditional or the common.”

Barness agrees, “A wedding’s ambiance is enhanced by the choices of colors in clothing, flowers, lighting, and design. This, along with the sounds, scents, and happiness for the couple helps define the celebratory nature of the event.  It has been said that color is a language, and it certainly speaks in the setting of a wedding.”

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