The Post Pandemic Palette: Blue, White and Green

The Post Pandemic Palette: Blue, White and Green

Why the colours of survival, healing and existential continuity after the pandemic will be the colours of fashion 

If identity is essentially about connectedness with the present moment and if fashion as a material expression of the inner self must acknowledge its outside reality, the pandemic is bound to colour the fashion palette in the coming months.

Colour guides for Autumn/ Winter 2020 compiled by experts after the global fashion weeks this February spotlight mandarin red, royal magenta, ripe orange, baked brick maroon, yellows and golds among assorted shades of green and blue.


Photo: Shutterstock

A colour palette showcasing varied shades of green.

Forecasts notwithstanding, this has turned out to be a year of The Blues (of sickness, lockdown, loss). However, it is also a year of the blue of medical scrubs, the blue of the skies we can see without fumes of pollution. Of the white of masks, doctor and nurse coats. The white of healing, the white of swans swimming back to water bodies in townships. Light yellows may soothe us but deep reds and blinding neons, we may well shun.

A dozen green hues from nature’s paint box though will hold and cheer us. Lime and pine, sage and mint, forest and fern, olive and jade. Hues not just of “sustainability”, but the green of reassuring regrowth. The green-blue of sea foam and seaweed, of ocean and nature that we plundered and pained.


Photo: Instagram/pantone

Classic Blue, the Pantone Colour of the Year 2020.

Last December, when somewhere in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus had begun to raise its ugly circular head with spikes against human well-being Pantone Color Institute announced Pantone-19 4052 or Classic Blue as the colour of 2020. Marking twenty years of inception, the institute strangely (or perhaps not) described this shade of blue speaking, as if, for a perplexed world. “Suggestive of the sky at dusk, Classic Blue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation as we cross the threshold into a new era. Imprinted in our psyches as a restful colour, Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit, offering refuge.”

Consider now the most recent covers of magazines and their colours.

Time, April 6, Chef Jose Andres in white.

Grazia UK, April issue, Janitha Gowribalan, intensive care specialist in blue scrubs.

Vanity Fair Italia, April, Dr Caterina Conti, lung specialist from Bergamo, Italy in white and blue

Vogue Italia, April, blank white cover signifying “rebirth, light after the darkness, the sum of all the colors.”

InStyle, US, one-off digital cover, Dr Jana Broadhurst, infectious diseases diagnostics specialist in white doctor’s coat


Photo: Instagram/vogueitalia

The April issue of ‘Vogue Italia’ features an all-white cover.

The White Reasons

White for Autumn/Winter 2020, the season when spring may barely return to fashion later this year will be an unusual choice but white is not new to fashion as it spells privilege and supremacy. The connotation though may completely change. It may have stood for status and money that helps keep it pristine but now it is the colour of uniforms of soldiers against COVID-19. Of those risking their lives for us. And, as Kassia St Clair, author of the 2016 book The Secret Lives of Colour argues, “because of its link with light, white has laid deep roots in the human psyche, and like anything divine, simultaneously inspire awe and terror in the human heart.”


‘The Secret Lives of Colour’ by Kassia St Clair.

If we had to choose among shade names of white to describe what may offer us comfort in the future, fashion should vote against ivory. It is stolen from elephants (and walruses) and it is time to move beyond pillaging the animal kingdom even in symbolism. Warrior White could well be the new fashion colour of 2020. Warriors of Coronavirus.

Green is for survival

An interesting research paper published by Alice Chu and Osmand Rehman of the School of Fashion, Ryerson University, Canada debated the “eco-friendliness of colour” asking “what colour is sustainable.” It included the findings of a study with consumers to understand products and colours associated with sustainability. Talking about “eco awareness” as the single biggest influencer of colour palettes in the future, it noted that a majority of respondents associated the colour “green’” with nature (botanical realities), health and sustainability.


‘Color: A Natural History of the Palette’ by Victoria Finlay.

The post COVID-19 fashion community, pondering over what is lost and how responsible the global fashion industry has been as a polluter and exploiter of the planet, may want to hold up the colour green as an olive branch between fashion and environment. It is time to put green on the green carpet without much ado. It is the colour of the tree of life and as Victoria Finlay author of the compellingly narrated book Color: A Natural History of the Palette reminds us, “After all, most of the world (the bits that are not covered by the sea, at least) is green.”

Banner (L-R) An ensemble from Issey Miyake’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection; Lady Gaga on the April 2020 cover of Instyle; Dr Janitha Gowribalan on the cover of Grazia UK. Courtesy: isseymiyakeofficial/Instagram, instylemagazine/Instagram, graziauk/Instagram.–3705