Color Social History

Living with color, and not only wearing it, is an aspect of life that is taken for granted. But our color environment is influenced by many factors that include social events, chemistry, and even geo-politics. Prior to the mid-1800s, many dyes were organic, made from animals, insects and plants, until advancement of chemical processes and technological evolution produced the bi-products of synthetic dyes. For centuries artists worked closely with "color men" to obtain the pigments and paints necessary to complete commissions, which often specified the use of certain colors. Although the international trade in dyes and pigments was well established, the early technological processes to extract the elements needed for artists to use on canvas was no more adaptive than the need for dyes in large quantities to facilitate the demand for mass market clothing, tied to advances in the sewing machine and an acquisitive middle class.

At any given time, a clothing designer is limited to the choice of fabrics available, as well as to the selections of colors. Color has a social history. The products of a laboratory, in the hands of a designer. The introduction of a new fabric, which may be simultaneously introduced on a new color, has profound impact on the types of garments created not only for haute couture, but for everyone who may find derivative versions in the high street. There has always been a direct link between fashion and interior design and that line is blurred more often than we think, but trends in home furnishings are more enduring.
Posted on 2011-02-24 under color