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Colours are a grey area!

December 2016

colour samples

Do you know your cassis from your juniper, your claret from your azalea, or your mocca from your saddle?

When we were kids fashion was fairly straightforward, with certainly a good choice, but with names we could generally understand.

Today things are very different. The Chief Executive of Dents Gloves, the famous English leather glove brand which has been a top favourite in English society for centuries, says that today colour is becoming very complicated.

Chief Executive Deborah Moore, who oversees all the new Collections from Dents, says that while there is more colour than ever now available in fashion, there is also a growing problem on how to describe it all.

“The human eye is capable of seeing around 10 million unique colours,” she said. “Most of us can detect even 30 different shades of grey.  The fashion industry is responding to demand for wider and wider choice, so today we are seeing more shades than ever before.

“The problem is that names of colours have never been exactly clarified. What one designer may call crimson, another may call cerise.

“Then some names are very hard to associate with a precise colour. The name magenta, for instance, was named during the battle of Magenta in 1859 which had no clear colour association. The word puce, which is today quite a common colour word, actually comes from the French word for flea, which certainly doesn’t conjure up a specific colour in anyone’s mind!”

Dents say they try to keep their leather colours named in a way that relates to the actual shade.

“Claret, azalea, fennel, juniper….these are all names we use which can give a good clue about the beautiful colouring,” said Deborah. “But today we are seeing more and more unusual words coming into the fashion language. And some odd shades that don’t match any exact colours as we know them.  It really is all becoming a very grey area!”

Dents say some new names for colour shades they have recently come across include:

Smalt – a deep blue named after a special blue glass of the same name.
Falu – taken from a small city in central Sweden where most of the homes are painted a deep rust-red
Pervenche – a rich purple-blue taken from the French word for periwinkle
Byzantium – a vibrant deep pink purple
Malachite – vibrant green taken from a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral
Verdigris – a soft shade of green taken from the colour copper goes after years of weathering
Cordovan – taken from the city of Cordovan, known for its production of a rich shade of burgundy brown sofas.
Gamboge – a deep mustard yellow that comes from the yellow sap of a gamboges tree
Jasper – a blackish green shade from an opaque quartz stone of the same name.
Cattlya – a soft middle purple shade named after an orchid 
Bittersweet – a deep reddish orange after a European plant

Today top fashion brands are producing a wider range of coloured items than ever before. Dents for instance do just one style of gloves in over 15 different shades. They also produce glove styles in over nine different shades of red leather alone, including berry, cerise, chilly, claret, hot pink, antique rose, juniper, crimson and azalea.

This can make it difficult when more and more of us are buying online when colours are not always exact.  How much easier it was in our youth when navy was navy and we never had to consider buying a Byzantium sweater!

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