Dancing to Spring

The top 10 hues for the season will keep consumers light on their feet

Dancing into Spring

By Erinn Morgan

Nanette Lepore’s skirt and crop top with splashes of Tangerine Tango

The top 10 hues for the season will keep consumers light on their feet

Colors lighten up and get lively for Spring 2012, as fashion designers cater to customers looking for a much-needed respite from the harsh economic realities. “Consumers look to spring for renewed energy, optimism, and the promise of a brighter day,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “They’ve learned how color can help them alter a mood, while providing the vitality and enthusiasm that enables them to experiment with new looks and color combinations.”

The hues of the season—everything from juicy oranges, ornamental purples, and lovely lilacs to stimulating yellow-greens—adorn the easy, breezy clothing silhouettes of spring.

Designs are influenced by diverse inspiration, such as the extremes of nature, modernist artwork, Paris in the 1970s, and the evocative 1920s, plus far-flung locales like Egypt and Laos. Corresponding colors reflect collections’ different moods—vivid bright hues, soft tones, and delightful pastels.

Following is a rundown of the season’s top 10 colors, including their complementary hues, and designer inspirations as outlined by Pantone, the worldwide color forecaster.

1 Color: Tangerine tango

Hue Details: A flirty, juicy orange, this hue is a vivacious refresher for consumers’ attitudes.
Complementary Colors: It mixes well with the ornamental bell-flower purple as well as the luxe and lively bright pink, cabaret.
Designer Inspiration: Designer Nanette Lepore poured on the tangerine tango in her luscious collection for Spring 2012.
She loves it for its vibrancy and ability to be paired perfectly with purples.
2 Color: Cockatoo

Hue Details: A subtle alternative to turquoise, this lovely blue hue is both highly feminine and purely spring.
Complementary Colors: Cockatoo blends perfectly with soft, sweet lilac and enlivening yellow-green margarita.
Designer Inspiration: Fashion designer Tracy Reese uses cockatoo throughout her Spring 2012 line. She was inspired by a wide variety of artwork and nature, which always comes into play for this style guru.
3 Color: Driftwood

Hue Details: A perfectly engineered accent color, this neutral also stands up on its own as a slightly weathered blend of beige and gray.
Complementary Colors: Driftwood works seamlessly with all the other key tones of the season.
Designer Inspiration: Pamella DeVos of the Pamella Roland line finds direction for the spring season in the bold works of the abstract Expressionist painters who revolutionized the modern art world. She also loves the modern versatility and softness of the driftwood hue, which can be seen throughout her Spring 2012 collection.

Shown this page, left to right: Pamella Roland Driftwood outfit, Tracy Reese cockatoo dress, Tommy Hilfiger blue and starfish men's ensemble, Adrienne Vittadini pleated dress in bellflower and tangerine tango
4 Color: Cabaret

Hue Details: A feminine and flattering hue that is also bold and assertive at the same time.
Complementary Colors: Cabaret is anything but subtle as it works magic with hues such as tangerine tango and bellflower.
Designer Inspiration: Peter Som’s influence this season is the beauty of roses in their myriad of colors. His must-have pick for Spring 2012 is a sheath dress in cabaret with mirror-finish laser-cut embroidery.
5 Color: Bellflower

Hue Details: A fanciful, ornamental purple that is drenched with richness and creativity.
Complementary Colors: Bellflower works like a charm with bold tangerine tango and cabaret.
Designer Inspiration: This season, iconic designer line Adrienne Vittadini draws inspiration from modern art such as Guyon Walker paintings, as well as around-the-globe travel and primitive cultures.

Top to bottom: ADAM sweet lilac pants with white jacket; solar power at play in Bill Blass slicker; Charlotte Ronson dress with jacket in sodalite blue. Below right: NAHM skirt and long-sleeve top in margarita
6 Color: Sweet Lilac

Hue Details: This hue evokes the fresh scents of summer, and is a sweet addition to the season’s vibrant color palette.
Complementary Colors: Sweet lilac works beautifully with the both the light cockatoo and margarita.
Designer Inspiration: The force behind the sophisticated ADAM line of clothing, Adam Lippes’ inspiration this season is a recent Picasso exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery. He uses sweet lilac throughout his Spring 2012 collection.
7 Color: Solar power

Hue Details: This bright yellow is strong and fun—it commands attention.
Complementary Colors: This wild hue needs the balance of a more grounded color, such as sodalite blue, a classic maritime shade.
Designer Inspiration: Solar power is a signature color this season for Jeffrey Monteiro, a Bill Blass designer. Inspired by classic, clean, and modern American sportswear, Monteiro says the must-have item in the newest collection is a hooded slicker in bonded cotton made in solar power.
8 Color: Sodalite blue

Hue Details: This classic nautical color delivers much-needed order and calmness of mind.

Complementary Colors:

Sodalite blue is a perfect grounding color to balance out spring’s bold and beautiful palette of colors.

Designer Inspiration: The up-and-coming designer Charlotte Ronson looked to the roaring 1920s and the demure detailing of the Victorian era for design inspiration and combined it with the grunge-inspired patchworkings of denim

9 Color: Margarita

Hue Details: A piquant yellow-green, this saturated hue is a definite spirit lifter with a stimulating glow.
Complementary Colors: Margarita makes a perfect pairing with sweet lilac.

Designer Inspiration: The force behind NAHM, designers Nary Manivong and Alexandria Hilfiger employ margarita in their Spring 2012 collection for its happy, young, and playful feel.

10 Color: Starfish

Hue Details: A warm, summer neutral that falls between brown and nude.
Complementary Colors: This easy-going hue blends perfectly with all the other colors in this season’s top 10.
Designer Inspiration: Cynthia Steffe designer Shaun Kearney’s influence is dusky, earthy neutrals found in tribal pieces from around the globe. His must-have piece for the season is a cropped suede fringe jacket in starfish. EB

Men’s Club
Men’s fashion colors for Spring 2012 also follow the playful direction of women’s hues. Still, the masculine palette offers more balancing tones. Yellows and oranges continue to burst through as confidence boosters. Maritime influences also prevail with vivid hues such as Hawaiian ocean and dazzling blue. Balancing tones such as vintage khaki, starfish, and sodalite blue balance out this saturated palette. The breezy, gray trade winds color also blends well with dazzling blue and grass green, a classic golf green perfect for the active sportswear segment.

What Drives Today’s Color Influencers?
Pantone asked style gurus and key fashion retail executives across the country for their take on the question of early color influences:
“What colorful item defined your style as a child and why?”

Cait Adair
Costume designer
“Desperate Housewives”

“Yes! That’s the pink of my fifth birthday party. That purple-gray of the sky the day I got my pony. And the tapestry hanging on my wall is the sweater my mother gave me at Paddington Station on the day I left for boarding school.”

Nicole Fischelis
GVP/fashion director

“The vision of my strawberry blonde and green-eyed mother wearing a pale turquoise pleated crepe dress has helped me define my style throughout the years. The beauty and elegance she exuded, as well as the color and fit of the dress, left me with a lifelong impression to always look and feel as she did that day.”

Ken Downing
Senior vice president,
fashion director
Neiman Marcus

“Hot to trot pink! Shocking, brilliant pink with a hint of day-glo to keep it at a fever pitch!”

Isabel Dupre
Celebrity stylist

“As a kid, I wore culottes. They were a good item, being feminine but practical for a tomboy like I was. My favorite was dark navy. It would be good to bring them back in fashion, especially since they are making all these new bike lanes in the city. For spring, I would make them over the knee in a light fabric, like a silk, in a range of jewel tones—amethyst, emerald, citrus, aquamarine, and blue.”