COLOR PALETTE: RED
Christmas time and its atmospheres inspire this focus on red, one of the most important nuances in FILA history. Here’s a short story of a millennial color, linked to various narrations.
Fun fact: Santa Claus, who actually inspired this article, hasn’t always been associated with red. His look – deriving first from St. Nicholas of Bari’s iconography, later from Scandinavian god Odin – was formerly green, as we can also see from the Ghost of the Christmas Present’s clothes in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843). Things changed with an advertising campaign: in 1931 a well-known drink company wanted to suggest that cola can be drunk all year. To emphasize this, illustrator Haddon Sundblom made Santa debut as a testimonial, and for the first time his white fur trimmed red jacket and pants were introduced.
In his Remarks on Colour (1950), Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote ‘today we say ‘red’ and we figure out the idea of it’, describing an almost archetypical colour. To explain this, we have to remember that red was first of all a dye, obtained between 16500 BC and 15000 BC (as seen in the Cave of Altamira, Spain) from the iron oxide of haematite to draw the haunted animals on rocks.
Ancient civilizations are plenty of red coloured details – from Egyptian maquillage to Greek vases to architectures and frescos in ancient Rome. It happened in the West as well as the East, where the Chinese created a synthetic vermilion pigment obtained by heating a blend of mercury and sulfur: the final result, brought to Europe by the Arabic alchemists, was widely used by Masters of Renaissance such as Titian, who gave his name to a particular shade of very warm and reddish brownish-orange colour.
Although widely celebrated by artists, at a certain moment of the 15th and the 16th century red became unpopular: the Catholic Reformation, for example, soon associated the colour with luxury items, soon considered regrettable. The studies of Sir Isaac Newton, especially those on the spectrum in 1666, also played a key role, since the discovery and the diffusion of new shades stole power to the most notable colours.
Luckily, red continued inspiring the arts, including the youngest ones such as cinema. The association with blood shaped highly popular genres like horror, inspiring the imagination of Brian DePalma (we’re not going to spoil the finale of Carrie, 1976) and Stanley Kubrick (it’s hard to think of the Overlook Hotel from Shining, 1980, without figuring out a bloody river in its hallways). It’s not about horror, but the use of red by Steven Spielberg in Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List (1993) is also notable.
Starting from the moment it appeared in its F-BOX logo in 1973, red has become a defining part of FILA history as well. In 1975, as parallel lines traced with felt pen, it shaped the prototype of the most iconic piece, the Borg polo shirt that rewrote tennis code lines. One year later, on December 16th, tennis players Paolo Bertolucci and Adriano Panatta chose the same colour to win a memorable Davis Cup trophy, and to send an important global message against any totalitarianism. In more recent times, between 2002 and 2003, the brand chose another iconic red – that of Ferrari – to build one of the best collaborations ever, also with the support of an Ambassador who knows what that color embodies: Michael Schumacher.Back to the articles!
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