The future is exciting. The future is purple.
Take ownership of purple in 2018: Violet is Pantone Color of the Year
A passionate purple hue is set to top colour palettes in 2018, complementing the International Women’s Day #PressforProgress campaign theme, which highlights feminism and international efforts to achieve wide-scale gender parity.
Colour trendsetter Pantone has selected “ultra-violet” as its 19th “Color of the Year” to communicate “originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking that points us towards the future.”
Purple is historically associated with efforts to achieve gender equality. In this context it was first used alongside green and white as the colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union, the organisation that led Britain’s women’s suffrage movement in the early 20th century.
For suffragettes fighting for the right to vote, purple represented “the royal blood that flows in the veins of every suffragette,” according to the book Women's Suffrage Memorabilia: An Illustrated Historical Study by Kenneth Florey. White represented purity and green represented hope.
In the 1960s and 1970s, use of the colour was revived by feminists to represent the Women’s Liberation movement as a tribute to the suffragettes.
Escalating empowerment of women
Fast forward to 2018, and the colour is a fitting follow up to a year in which knitted pink “pussy” hats dominated demonstrations around the world protesting against discrimination.
More recently, gender-based workplace harassment took center stage as men and women spoke out about long-simmering workplace injustices. The #MeToo social media hashtag was used extensively worldwide to draw attention to these issues online.
Undoubtedly, the fallout from lawsuits filed to bring workplace harassers to justice and further revelations about discriminatory practices will continue to unfold for years to come.
Purple inspires hope and vision
“From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive ultra violet lights the way to what is yet to come,” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute, said in a statement.
“Complex and contemplative, ultra violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.”
Purple is also associated with counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance, including musicians Prince for the song “Purple Rain” and Jimi Hendrix for “Purple Haze,” according to Pantone.
The significance of the colour to the women’s movement was crystallized in The Color Purple (Harcourt 1982) a ground breaking book by American author Alice Walker, which famously mapped out discriminatory practices against African-American women in the southern United States in the 1930s.
Walker became the first woman of colour Pulitzer Prize laureate when the book won the award in 1983. Television talk show host Oprah Winfrey and actor Whoopi Goldberg starred in a 1985 film based on the book directed by Steven Spielberg.
Throughout history, the colour has featured prominently in artistic representations of women, including an 18th century portrait of Russian Empress Catherine the Great by Fyodor Rokotov.
Now widely associated with contemporary feminism, the colour purple symbolises achievements gained and achievements yet to come.