When did orange became the new - well, the new black?
It only seems like yesterday that pink was the go-to colour for designers looking to shout about newness. Acne's Jonny Johansson and J.W. Anderson used it to make their provocative, disconcerting menswear shapes feel even more off-kilter; at Céline, Phoebe Philo shattered luxury conventions by using a raw, taped pink plasterboard setting for a runway show; and brands from Valentino RED to Normann to Comme des Garcons have shaken up their retail spaces with skewed, retro shades of bubblegum, flesh and watermelon.
Now it's orange's turn in the spotlight, though - a colour we're more used to associating with mobile phones and budget travel than we are with cutting-edge design. That started to change back in 2013, when Pantone proclaimed an intense shade called Tangerine Tango the colour of the year. And ever since, the colour has been all over the runways (most notably at Hunter's Winter 2015 show, where creative director Alasdhair Willis revitalised the 160-year-old footwear brand by showing its wares on a spectacular, luminous orange catwalk that circled a vast, waterfall-filled space). We've seen hazard orange outerwear made from salvaged lifeboats and parachutes at Christopher Raeburn, and accessories spattered with tangerine paint at Alexander McQueen's diffusion line McQ. But this season, in London, it felt as though we'd finally hit peak orange. Designers like Roksanda Ilincic, Eudon Choi, Pringle and Anya Hindmarch used the shade as a highlight colour in their collections, in a spectrum that ran from amber to carrot to copper. Orange was particularly prominent n the mens' collections, where streetwear labels like Blood Brother made it their central, defining shade.
But you can't have a colour of the moment without wondering what might come along to replace it. And young designer Richard Malone waited till the last morning of London's shows to put forward an alternative, with a show that's catapulted him onto the shortlist for this year's LVMH Prize. His collection, inspired by public transport upholstery, used sustainable fabrics printed in vibrant clashes of burnt orange (inevitably), and a cool, aquamarine blue. It was hard not to wonder, looking at the show, whether the new orange might already have arrived.