The Year of Purple

The Pantone Color Institute, which helps manufacturers select colors for designs, has been naming a color of the year since 2000.

This year the shade is Ultra Violet (PANTONE 18-3838)

Purple’s Place in History

The Royal Treatment

Royalty, wealth, power, exclusivity, and fame are common themes for the color purple across many Eastern and Western cultures. For many centuries, purple dye was extremely rare and difficult to produce because it was extracted from sea snails. As a result, purple clothing was expensive and became associated with power and royalty, from ancient Rome to the kingdoms of Europe. In the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that only members of the royal family could wear the color.

 

Spirituality & Mourning

Just as black is the traditional color for death and grieving in many cultures, purple shares the same meaning in some European nations, including the U.K. and Italy, as well as Brazil, Thailand, India, and among many Catholics. In Thailand and Brazil, purple is customarily worn alongside black when mourning of the death of a loved one, and in Brazilian culture, it is considered unlucky to wear purple when not attending a funeral or related service.

 

Bravery & Honor

In the United States, purple—the symbol for honor and courage—is represented by the Purple Heart, the military’s highest award given to soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen for their acts of bravery.

 

Purple Rain

Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality.

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