The Most Iconic Colours in Fashion

As Pantone releases Nicoll Blue in honour of the British designer, we look fashion's most ubiquitous colours


Images courtesy of Richard Nicoll, photography by Quentin De Wispelaere and Lea Colombo

Richard Nicoll Blue

Since his debut in 2006 the late designer Richard Nicoll has been repeatedly using blue hues in his collections. Vibrant blue popped in his womenswear 2014, whereas cerulean and ocean blue were the designer’s favourite colours for menswear. One particular shade of the colour has been recently renamed into Nicoll Blue by the Pantone Institute of Colour. Being a brand new shade, it is a visual homage to the designer’s work. Nicoll sadly died of a heart attack last year, aged 39. This weekend at London Fashion week, the hue was present throughout the main fashion week venue this weekend as a tribute.


Images courtesy of Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli’s Shocking Pink

Whatever Elsa Schiaparelli chose to do, she wanted it to be shocking. Chanel’s main rival and “the epitome of modernity” (as she was called by Irish poet Louis MacNeice), Schiaparelli hated mediocrity and routine. Her collaborations with surrealists were intended to astonish and to shock – and so was her signature shade – shocking pink, an electrifying hue of dark pink that she used for some of her famous creations as well as for hat boxes and the bottle of the namesake perfume. Schiaparelli described the colour as “bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life-giving, like all the light and the birds and the fish in the world put together, a colour of China and Peru but not of the West — a shocking colour, pure and undiluted” – what’s more to add?

Images courtesy of Chanel

Chanel Black

Whereas it will never be clear who exactly freed women from corsets – Chanel or Poiret, Chanel should doubtlessly be credited for making black the ultimate colour of fashion. Fashion’s first minimalist, who amidst the sartorial opulence of the 1920s recognised the power of a simple black dress, admired, in fact, two colours, claiming: “Women think of all colours except the absence of colour. I have said that black has it all. White, too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony”.

Images courtesy of Hermès

Hermès Orange

You might have heard about people buying some trifle at Hermès’ just for the sake of the iconic orange-hued boxes and you might have heard about crazy waiting lists for Hermès’ Birkin bags, crafted from orange-hued leather. But you might not know that orange first became the signature colour of the heritage French brand due to shortages of normal beige-hued paper during World War II.

Images courtesy of Balenciaga

Balenciaga Red

“All my life I’ve pursued the perfect red”, wrote the formidable Diana Vreeland in her memoir “D.V.” proceeding to describe the particular – the perfect – shade of red, favoured by Christobal Balenciaga. Not only red was the colour of the Cordoba-leather upholstery of the lift that brought couture clients to the designers atelier, red was also the favourite colour for evening dresses – and it lent itself perfectly to Balenciaga’s sculptural forms.

Marta Jakubowski, AW17
Red Hot Power Dressing by Marta Jakubowski