The Color Revolution

Tue, Jan 8, 2013
MIT Press

When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to think pink!, it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue. It is the latest development of a color revolution that have been unfolding for more than a century. In this book, the award-winning historian Reggie Blaszczyk traces the relationship of color and commerce, from haute couture to automobile showrooms to interior design, describing the often unrecognized role of the color profession in consumer culture. In The Color Revolution, Blaszczyk examines the evolution of the color profession from 1850 to 1970, telling the stories of innovators who managed the color cornucopia that modern artificial dyes and pigments made possible. These color stylists, color forecasters, and color engineers helped corporations understand the art of illusion and the psychology of color. Blaszczyk describes the strategic burst of color that took place in the 1920s, when General Motors introduced a bright blue sedan to compete with Ford s all-black Model T and when housewares became available in a range of brilliant hues. She explains the process of color forecasting–not a conspiracy to manipulate hapless consumers but a careful reading of cultural trends and consumer taste. And she shows how color information flowed from the fashion houses of Paris to textile mills in New Jersey. As a tie-in to the Urban Fabric exhibition, Blaszczyk focused her talk on America s first color forecasters and their relationship to Seventh Avenue garment manufacturers and Fifth Avenue retailers in the 1920s and 1930s. Reggie Blaszczyk is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and an editor at the Journal of Design History. She is the author of seven books, including Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning; Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers; and American Consumer Society, 1865-2005: From Hearth to HDTV.

Regina Blaszyczyk

Reggie Blaszczyk is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and an editor at the Journal of Design History. She is the author of seven books, including Imagining Consumers: Design and Innovation from Wedgwood to Corning; Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers; and American Consumer Society, 1865-2005: From Hearth to HDTV.

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