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ABC of Colour by Isabella Codd, Chez Maison

Colour is in the eye of the beholder, in fact many colours are not even noticed by some eyes. Colour blindness is quite common and can be strong enough that orange and green actually look the same to someone with this condition. When you say to your friend that ‘it’s a lovely shade of blue’ - and your friend agrees, there is no way of telling if you are both seeing the same colour.
Talking about shades of blue; A particular violet-blue, like the colour of a forget-me-not flower, was adopted by the French Fashion Designer, Jeanne Lanvin (1867-1946) as, what we now call, a signature colour.

The founder of the House of Lanvin, the oldest fashion house in the world, she
was way ahead of Ralph Lauren being the first fashion house to really do interior design. This particular blue was Jeanne's favourite after she purportedly saw it in a Fra Angelico fresco during the first decades of the 20th Century. She was truly passionate about colour understanding the magic that colour brings to a garment. She even opened her own dye factory in 1923, dedicated to colour experimentation. Not surprisingly because Mme Lanvin always made use of colour in her work, both pastels and bold colours. She was particularly fond of delicate shades of pinks, and that certain shade of blue which came to be known as “Lanvin Blue.” Since then, the violet-blue colour has become one of the brand’s symbols and is still very prevalent in Lanvin’s collections and packaging today.
Lanvin Blue was probably the first of those designer names we all love the sound of, like Griege,Beige, Clover and Dust. They do very little to convey colour but do everything to create anatmosphere. These names are like those given to racehorses which make them sound dynamic. Red Rum would never have had the same impact on the headlines if he had won his races simply called Spot.

Professionals working with colour, particularly printers on paper or textiles, use codes for all their colour choices. They could never just trust that their eye would match the specifiers. It doesn’t matter how good their own ability to distinguish colours, if it’s not what the designer asked for there’s business at stake. An industry standard like Pantone is essential to make sure that everyone is on the same hymn sheet to avoid costly mistakes. The inks they use to print on paper all have codes except for white. There is no reference for white because there is an assumption that the paper is white. When the Pantone people get into the area of Fashion, Home & Interiors they have vast tools to help designers. Printing on objects like tee-pots and plates is a whole other issue. Then there’s the massive subject of how a colour will look printed on a textile. Knowing how difficult it is to pick a colour for your hall-door, imagine trying to illustrate the appearance of colour on a product especially as there are over 2,300 colour codes.
With such a choice is it any wonder choosing colours for homes can be so stressful. Even when home-makers manage the furniture and renovations themselves, colour can be daunting. It is a large field of study in itself. Colours can be warm, cold, toning, complementary, primary, secondary.. thelist goes on. Colour wheels abound to help with the question of what ‘goes-with’ what. While
helpful it’s just an ABC of colour.
Ultimately colours are very personal. And these colour wheels can’t chart how much you love the colour of Moss with Lily-of-the-Valley because you had it in your bridal bouquet. Or the pink ribbons in your little girl’s hair on her first day at school. Or the colour of your husband’s yellow jumper.
Isn’t it nice to know that someone did ask his designer for his room to match his favourite jumper and the result was a perfect match for his style and home.
If you can choose colours that do the same in your life, then you should.

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