What does a color say about you? That sounds like a New Age trope, but post-Pantone’s revelation of Marsala as its color of the year, we could ask that same question to the color-predicting leader. What do we expect from Pantone’s color of the year choices? I was neither offended nor overly enthusiastic about the choice. At first, I was underwhelmed, thinking it was drab, lacking the vibrance (and pinkness) of last year’s winner Radiant Orchid, but I now see the richness and sophistication in the dark reddish-brown hue.
I ask: If a color is inspired by a wine, can it really be that bad? Pantone says the color “embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.” It’s a warm, welcoming hue, it goes on to say, that adds elegance to any room.
So, why are people so down on Marsala?
The Atlantic calls the food motifs that Marsala alludes to as “decidedly un-gourmet,” saying it resembles “rust, the grimy, gag-inducing type that lines corners of frat boy dormitory-style bathrooms.” New York magazine also found the color less than appetizing (“icky” was how they described it), explaining that “it’s a color that makes you want to go to Olive Garden.” However, there’s an argument to be made that, that’s a good thing.
Marsala may seem divisive now, but there’s no denying its appeal. When Katy Perry dyes her hair the color of the year, I don’t think anyone’s in any position to deny it’s ubiquity or impending popularity.
I, for one, have no qualms with Marsala. I’d be a hypocrite if I did as I recently purchased Marsala-colored tights and wear them proudly today as I write this. Indeed, here are other beautiful examples from the fashion, design, and the home goods worlds that showcase the rich warmth behind Marsala. Now tell me you can’t see what makes this color so appealing.