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Want to dress happy? Pick a bright colour

In these dark and uncertain times, neons and hot pinks can provide the much-needed comfort

Mumbai: Designer Masaba Gupta collaborates with boAt during FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week, in Mumbai, Friday, March 19, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI03_19_2021_000206A) (PTI)

At the recently concluded FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week, the runway was dressed in colours.

Anamika Khanna opened the season with multi-coloured embroideries and hand-painted silhouettes, while Bodice, otherwise known for its monochrome palette, presented garments in shades of lemon yellow, lilac, rust and hot pink during the finale show. In between, there were rainbow colours, at Pankaj & Nidhi; powdery pastels, at Payal Singhal and Gauri & Nainika; and fiery red, at House of Masaba.

You’re probably thinking: Every season has a defining set of colours, so what’s the big deal? There’s a little more to the story this time around. After the dreary year we’ve just had, the colours we now choose to surround ourselves with—in this case, by way of the defining outfits for the season ahead—could very well dictate our moods. “I have used a lot of colours in this collection because they bring happiness, and have a healing touch. I think, given the past one year, we can use a lot of colours,” Ruchika Sachdeva of Bodice told Mint before presenting her collection. Pankaj Ahuja, one half of Pankaj & Nidhi, says their original plan was to work with a muted colour palette for their SS’21 collection but they switched to a more colourful scheme just days before the show. “We wanted to feel optimistic ourselves when looking at our mood board. The message of joy it eventually evoked for everyone was a happy by-product,” says Ahuja. He likens 2020 to an absence of colour. “So a bright burst this year is more like an immediate response for feel-good self-expression. It’s not very different from a colourful salad—uplifting for the mind and body.”

Designer label Pankaj & Nidhi's colour palette celebrated rainbow hues at the recently concluded FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week.
Designer label Pankaj & Nidhi's colour palette celebrated rainbow hues at the recently concluded FDCI X Lakme Fashion Week.

Also read: The healing touch of really bright colours

There's enough research to show that bright colours can evoke happy feelings. “After a year of global trauma and isolation, we have realised that the things physically closest to our bodies—our clothes—can dramatically affect our mood. We feel colours, more than we wear them. They have so many associations and visual stimulation that they affect us more than we think,” says artist, psychologist and colour consultant Kanak Nanda.

A global affair

The penchant for bright shades this season was not just restricted to India. International shows too displayed a wide spectrum of colours. There was siren red and shocking pink at Valentino, tangerine oranges at JW Anderson, grass green at Bottega Veneta and intense colour blocking at Molly Goddard. Rianna Nektaria Kounou of Rianna + Nina, a German brand known for its bold embrace of pop colours and prints, says during 2020, fashion took a limbo approach with neutral lounge sets. “That dress code seemed as unstable as many of us felt. However, we are seeing a strong embrace of colour now as people begin to emerge from lockdown. I personally think it’s hard to not be in a good mood when you put yourself in a colourful outfit,” she says. Her partner Nina Knaudt adds: "Bright colours feels important right now. They are capable of enlightening your mood as well as of others around you. In a way, the pandemic has ripped away fear, and made people braver in their fashion choices. We can see it in the flirty and fun bubblegum pink that was spotted everywhere on the SS21 runways.”

Nanda believes a lot of the colours we are seeing today are a reflection of the fact that when we were locked indoors, the only relief we had was looking outside at nature—sunny yellow (illuminating yellow is one of Pantone’s two colours for 2021), forest green, sky blue, sunset shades, soothing lilac, a zealous pink. “Dressing up in bold colours is one of the ways to feel better about ourselves and more optimistic about the uncertain future."

Also read: Art against climate change

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