I met Louisa a few years ago when I was first asked to give a talk for the Colour Collective UK (initially a sister organisation of the Colour Group Great Britain) for which Louisa is a founding member, so you could say we met through colour! Louisa is an avid colour lover which is clearly seen through Trendlistr her online fashion destination inspired by vintage and led by trends. If that’s not enough she’s also the Fashion Communication Lecturer at Northumbria University. So settle in and enjoy Louisa’s On The Colour Couch!
What is your earliest colour memory?
My earliest colour memory is definitely tied into clothes. I always wore insanely jazzy prints – my mum used to dress me in head to toe Kenzo and Oilily prints that were an explosion of colour! And the affliction for busy prints in vibrant tones has definitely stayed with me…
What does colour mean to you?
Colour to me is joyous. I can’t understand people who only want grey, black and white in their lives. Colour is so uplifting and life-affirming, and wearing colour totally transforms the way that people respond to you. It’s funny the reactions some people have to colour in clothing – they say ‘you’re so brave, I would never wear that!’ and I think it’s a shame that many people outwardly admire colourful clothes but feel that they cannot participate in them because of this innate fear.
Do you have a favourite colour or a colour that you find yourself constantly drawn to? And why?
I am a fiend for pinks and reds. There’s something very feminine about them, but they’re also very powerful. I think they elicit strong reactions from people because they’ve been associated with gender and sensuality for so long, and I love that there are still so many interesting debates going on surrounding them. Is pink patronising in certain design scenarios? Is red a warning sign or a colour of confidence?
Do you have a colour that you least like? And why?
I’m not a big fan of certain shades of yellow, although I’m trying to get over my prejudice! I think I’ve always found it quite difficult to wear and not particularly versatile. I did force myself to buy a golden yellow silky shirt from Marks & Spencer the other day and I have endeavoured to wear it until I love it…
What do you love most about working with colour?
I love the way that working with colour in clothing lets me track the shifting attitudes towards it. A few years ago, people were more averse to embracing colour. I think it felt a bit brash, even arrogant, to dress to boldly. In 2019 people feel more comfortable with celebrating their personal style, and colour preference is a big part of that. Instagram culture has caused brightly coloured garments to become more desirable because of the way that they photograph and catch the eye of the audience. We’ve become less afraid to stand out from the crowd.
What do you think your life would be like without colour?
It’s my worst fear to go blind, and a life without colour wouldn’t be far off from that. I can’t explain exactly why I have such a visceral reaction to that idea, but it’s a nightmare scenario for me! To be honest, I can’t even watch a black and white film all the way through….
What’s your favourite colour story?
I love the story of ‘Gen Z Yellow’ and how it sort of exploded onto the scene in fashion and wider retail. It is supposed to represent the zest, energy and activist passion of the younger generation whose minds are focused on solving the world’s social inequality and environmental issues. It’s such a bold shade and I think it’s so interesting that it has been attached to this demographic as a sort of symbol of their optimism and vibrancy.
Were you ever afraid or wary of colour? And what did you do to overcome this?
I think I was so immersed in colour from day one by my parents. My parents are compulsive collectors of beautiful things: my mum buys vintage clothes, art, and jewellery. My dad buys stamps and postcards. I used to imitate them and collect stamps with lovely motifs on them then arrange them by topics, or buy barbie clothes and then carefully lay them all out and arrange them into outfits. My mum used to sit with my and we would flick through big coffee table books of Cartier jewellery and Neuschwanstein Castle. I would go to sleep with these images firmly embedded in my mind, it’s no wonder I turned into a colour fiend!
Do you have a favourite colour place that you visit (or have visited)?
My favourite colour place has to be the Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and Yosemite. The naturally occurring colours are so vivid in places they look almost alien and otherworldly.
If you could pick any colour and give it a name, what would that be?
I would rename dusky pink ‘putty pink’ because that sounds much more tactile and lip-smacking!
For anyone afraid of colour what would your number 1 piece of advice be?
Just try it out and see how different you feel. People seem to react differently when you are wearing or incorporating colour into your home, it does tend to provoke that sense of delight! And if that still feels like too much, it’s all about little touches. Perhaps a colourful printed silk scarf around the neck with an all-black outfit, or a clutch bag.
Which colourful person do you most admire and would love me to interview for the On the Colour Couch series?
I think it would be really interesting to interview a colour scientist to get their opinion on colour. Perhaps one of our fellow Colour Collective UK members such as Stacey Aston who is doing so much for colour and science education around the North East and beyond!
I’m often asked why so many of us fear colour. I feel our parents can have such a profound effect on our love of colour and how we embrace it. Louisa shares a very interesting insight here of the positive impact her parents had on not making colour wrong and she certainly embraces it fully. This isn’t for everyone so her tip of bringing in little touches is spot on.
The Colour Collective UK which Louisa mentioned is based in England’s Northeast. Their focus is in creating cross-disciplinary events which illustrate the magic of colour in all its breadth. What they have achieved in the past two years is incredible. I’m proud to be one of their patron members/sponsors alongside Northumbria University Newcastle. If you would like to see their upcoming events or suggest a colour event then head over the Colour Collective UK.