The fashion industry’s fascination with black has often received a sort of cultish apprehension from spectators. Fashion designers, artists, anybody in the creative field for that matter, can’t seem to leave the color alone. Black is to designers what orange is to Hare Krishnas. A colour that is so deeply embedded into fashion, that it holds to its credit the success of designers like Coco Chanel, Yojhi Yamamoto and Alexander McQueen. And to imagine that for three decades in the Middle Ages, black wasn’t even considered a color, merely a means of formulating other colors. An exhibition in Paris in 1946 called “Black is a color” by Maeght Gallery, the painter, fought against the concepts taught in art schools of that time. It doesn’t seem like much now but at that point of time, it proved to be a revolution for the color.
However, this color has been called negative and even been linked with death. The Chinese too consider black to be evil, as seen in the Yin and Yang representation. It makes you wonder how it has survived to hold the ground it does right now, being called the most necessary color your wardrobe should contain. Coining iconic terms like “The staple little black dress” and “X is the New Black”. From cold and depressed, this color is now vibrant and elegant. Then we have singers like Johnny Cash, who turned black into a color of rebellion. Here is a man who wore black to every single concert, performance and public outing. He often said that it gave him a sense of freedom and rebellion, since he was up against the status quo. Cults like Gothic and Satanism hold a sort of sacred place for the color black. Even music scenes like grunge and punk that originated in the 1970s have incorporated black as their dress code on various occasions.
Black is a color that literally stands for “to each his own” It is cold, elegant, sophisticated, rebel, dark, evil and maybe not a colour at all to some. When fashion designer Sagal Bedi was asked why black is his favorite color to experiment with, he said, “The color works wonders on any skin tone. It’ll brighten up a dull face within seconds. It looks good on all my clients and makes them happy. Then why shouldn’t I opt for it? The black leather jacket has for decades been a symbol of freedom, of youth. And if my clients want to pull off the James Dean look with panache, I will help them.” While Sagal on the one hand believes in bringing satisfaction to his customers, his sister who is an accessories designer has a different opinion. “I think when it comes to bags and shoes; black is the most staple color. It goes well with any outfit and the textures it gives you are beautiful. The color looks royal in any fabric, from leather to jute, black will look good no matter what you try making with it. So as a designer, it gives me more room to work with,” she said. Both Sagal Bedi and Mansha Bedi debuted with all-black collections in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
Everybody has their own reason for being partial towards black. Alexander McQueen held the color close to his heart because he considers it the most artistic. A designer, who has been known for the incorporation of skulls in his clothing and accessories, also uses the color because of its connection to death. Karl Lagerfeld, the man behind Fendi and Chanel has always been partial towards the color. Not just black though, he thinks both black and white are the purest forms, they need to be reserved. He was once asked what the most iconic outfit of all times is and he said that one can never be over-dressed or under-dressed with a little black dress. The little black dress gained fame in the early 1926, when it was designed by Coco Chanel and was actually long enough to cover your calves. However, she revolutionized a taboo color and turned it into a culture.
Model Anshika Prakash has done several photo shoots with themes like Gothic and grunge and her fascination with the color has grown with time. When asked what made her say yes to shoots that held these themes, she said, “Black is so flawless. I don’t have to worry about how my body looks, the curves and waistline automatically get concealed to create a flattering posture. It doesn’t take much effort and makes me feel more confident in front of the camera.”
Define the Color in One Word
So black seems to have its roots dug deep in every aspect of fashion. From photography to modelling to designing, everybody in the fashion industry holds a soft spot for this colour. When I asked to define the colour in one word, this is what they had to say.
“It is evergreen” – Sagal Bedi
“Artistic” – Mansha Bedi
“Graceful” – Anshika Prakash
A colour this empowering can never be replaced, black will always remains the new black.
Editor: Akanksha Bhatia