On Thursday, Pantone unveiled its color of the year 2023: Viva Magenta. A tint with a joie de vivre. Not Barbie’s aggressive synthetic, not Valentino’s intense couture luxury, not tired millennial salmon, but as New York Times General Critic Jason Farago put it, “a saturated hue that honks on the threshold of fuchsia, certainly not organic but not quite electric.
The hue was selected by human trend forecasters who study fashion and design, then interpreted by the artificial intelligence tool Midjourney to create what Pantone described as an “endless new ecosystem to explore, called” the Magentaverse “.” In a press release, the company called Viva Magenta, aka Pantone 18-1750, “an unconventional shade for an unconventional time.”
A few members of the Styles team ventured into the magentaverse to debate the color of the year. Let us know what you think in the comments.
Vanessa Friedman: The magentaverse! Let us pause for a moment to consider this word. I wonder what Mark Zuckerberg would say? I also wonder what you all would say. What does that mean that could define 2023?
Callie Holterman: The actual swatch of this color is so similar to TikTok’s “follow” and “download” buttons. AI drives TikTok’s algorithm, AI helped express the color of the year. I guess the house always wins?
Jeremy Allen: I reluctantly have to hand it over to the AI: Magenta might be the only color for 2023, a year that will be all about a government divided, everything divided. It’s neither here nor there (“pink-purplish-red” is one of Wikipedia’s definitions, and it’s right between red and blue on the color wheel), but it’s screaming in your face .
VF: On the other hand, Jeremy is also a compromise between red and blue. Who can be optimistic? At least politically. However, according to color scientists, magenta does not technically exist, which is a less positive sign. There is no wavelength of light that corresponds to magenta. It’s just that place where the blue blends into the red.
Stella Bugbee: The AI part looks like a gimmick gone wrong. Our ability to think and differentiate colors and make sense of them seems to be a big part of what makes us human. Why outsource this?
CH: Like these AI-created Dall-E images, there’s the gist, but something is wrong in a way that a robot might not (yet) notice, but a human would.
AND: As the designer of the printing section on this desk, I have no doubt that my work will be replaced by an algorithm in what, five years? (It was wonderful working with all of you!) But the simplicity of it all is one of the reasons I love magenta: it’s not so secretly one of the cornerstones of color printing. – the M in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). When something looks too red on a proof, we ask to reduce the magenta, not, in fact, the red. It’s a subtractive primary color, which means it never really gets its due. But what would we do without it?
SB: What do we do with the “viva” of all this? Especially since Midjourney, his favorite performer, is sorely lacking in “liveliness”?
Ludwig Lucero II: Like the shadow itself, it seems to insist that we get excited about it, but I can’t think of a reason why we should. It’s not a color you want Direct with significantly, isn’t it?
Jessica Testa: The Jennifer-Coolidge-as-Tanya-in-“White Lotus” color scheme. He stands at the breakfast bar of the five-star Italian resort asking for an Oreo cookie cake.
AND: It almost feels like the millennial pink of yesteryear is going through an algorithm to make it look “post-pandemic” — that kind of redux from the Roaring Twenties.
JT: That’s the thing with those Pantone ads; they explain their choices by making sweeping generalizations about the mood of the world. I remember in 2019 they chose “classic blue” as the answer to everyone feeling “totally overloaded and perpetually stressed out.” Pre-pandemic! If only they knew !
VF: So here’s another question: would you wear it?
JT: Not for me. Although I will say that the idea of wearing this shade of pink appeals to me more right now than wearing muted pink – say, millennial pink.
VF: Pantone identifies it as a “hybrid color” or “a crimson red that does not boldly dominate but rather takes a ‘fist in a velvet glove’ approach.” They also say it “welcomes everyone and everyone”. But it’s interesting that most of us think of it as closer to pink than red.
LL: Pink is a fact of life, and it seems Ms. 18-1750’s brash maximalism suits our current moment much better than cotton candy or a more restrained shade of carnation.
CH: Someone tell the AI this color would wash me out!
SB: The AI doesn’t like us, Callie!
AND: The AI knows that this tint will make your avatar appear in the metaverse.
CH: Can you imagine Zuckerberg’s avatar wearing this color? I’m going to be underdressed for the magentaverse.
VF: In fact, imagining Zuckerberg’s avatar in the magentaverse fills me with joy. It’s a step up from those gray T-shirts, anyway.
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