COLOUR PALETTE: BLACK

Elegant, mysterious and seductive. Today, in our series of posts devoted to colours, we invite you to a rendezvous with black.

7 March 2024

It really happened. In August 2018, on a visit to Fundação de Serralves in Porto, Portugal, an Italian tourist ‘fell’ into a ‘black hole.’ The work in question was Descent Into Limbo, a 1992 piece by Indian artist Anish Kapoor. Portraying a big hole with a 2.5-metre (8ft) drop, that the tourist unfortunately perceived as bidimensional.

The main cause of this mishap was the fact that the installation was not a regular ‘black’, but painted with Vantablack S-VIS – the darkest of them all. The pigment was created for use by the military and is composed of a unique matrix of carbon nanotubes that can absorb around 99.965 per cent of perceived light. Kapoor acquired its patent and therefore This triggered much debate and, as we have seen, an unfortunate accident.

In Black. The History of a Color (2008), French historian Michel Pastoreau states that ‘In the beginning, there was black’. A painting of a large bull found inside the Lascaux caves – the oldest graphic work in history – presents carbon-made outlines. At the time it was created, primitive man burned animal bones mixed with minerals to create the first-ever pigments. As writing developed, so did ink, obtained by mixing carbon, water and animal-based glue.

If before the world there was ‘darkness’, it could have only been saturated in black. The daughter of Caos, Nyx was a Greek goddess. Her reign was associated with sleep, secrets, anguish and disgrace. Feared by Zeus himself, Nyx crossed the sky wearing a dark cape on a chariot dragged by four black horses.

The fascination for black also steered the evolution of language. The ancient Etruscans coined the word ater – ‘opaque black’ – that would later be used by the Latins to indicate negative values related to ugliness, dirt and atrocity. Another word, niger, has uncertain origins but indicates a brilliant light, connected with positive concepts.

Throughout Western history, black has been the colour of grief. In England in the 16th and 17th centuries, dying fabrics to dark colours was costly, thus black gowns and dresses were only used on special occasions such as funerals. To honour the memory of her husband Albert, Queen Victoria, famously wore dark gowns for over forty years. Black’s fashion rebirth started in the 20th century. In 1926 Gabrielle Chanel presented the little black dress as a new symbol of modernity, in 1966 Yves Saint Laurent reinterpreted the black tuxedo as a symbol of emancipation, and in 1994 the infamous ‘revenge dress’ worn by Diana Spencer could only be black.

In the history of FILA – known for cheerful, flashy colour blocks – black isn’t always dominant. However, things are changing with the brand’s recent trend-driven direction. In Joseph Graesel and Antonino Ingrasciotta’s 2019 and 2020 Spring Summer collections, black shapes lightweight dresses, slimline ensembles and scuba details. In the 110th Anniversary Collection, styled by Katie Grand, the most urban designs are black, while in the Roksanda X Fila Fall Winter 2022 collection, dark tones play the backdrop to bold colours. Last, but not least, in the Fall Winter 2023 collection designed by Haider Ackermann, black appears in an impalpable veil, a metallic mass. In other moments, it’s a lightning bolt that jolts us into the universe of fashion.

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Born in Biella in the foothills of the ltalian Alps, WONNIE is a ski-loving white bear. Because he is from the snow­covered Alps, he is vulnerable to hot weather, and despite his size he has timid personality so he is always blushing. WONNIE is a gentle bear with heart of gold who easily find faults with himself even with small things but never blames others.

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