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Purple Is The Color Of The Year For 2018

Pantone has picked the "color of the year" for 2018 — a vivid purple.
Courtesy of Pantone
Pantone has picked the "color of the year" for 2018 — a vivid purple.

The color of the year for 2018 is a vivid purple, according to Pantone, which gives the title to a new hue every December.

Specifically, "PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet" is the chosen hue. ("Ultra violet" with a space, we'll note: actual "ultraviolet" light is, by definition, invisible.)

Each color of the year encompasses something about fashion, decorating and design trends while also reflecting "what's needed in our world today," the Pantone Color Institute's vice president, Laurie Pressman asserted in a statement.

Lat year's color of the year was a "life-affirming" shade of green. The year before was a pairing of rose quartz and serene blue that was seen as anti-stress while also nodding toward gender fluidity, Pantone said.

So. What does purple have to say about our planet in 2018?

It's "a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade," Pantone says, one that "communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us towards the future."

Think Prince, or David Bowie, or Jimi Hendrix, Pantone says. Think purple-toned pictures of stars scattered across the galaxy, the "vast and limitless night sky," the "mysteries of the cosmos," purple-lit meditation spaces.

And — unmentioned by Pantone — in Alice Walker's novel The Color Purple, the color purple is presented as an example of God-given beauty.

Of course, there are more worldly associations with the color as well.

For centuries, purple has been associated with royalty, because of the extraordinary expense of dying fabric purple.

In our current political climate, where red is linked with Republicans and blue with Democrats, purple is periodically identified as a symbol of bipartisanship — or, in the case of swing states, as a signifier of uncertain affiliation.

And then there's Southern California.

"The forecast for [Thursday] is purple," Ken Pimlott said last night.

Pimlott, the director at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, wasn't making an extremely accurate prediction about the Pantone color of the year . He was talking about the intense fires near Los Angeles.

As of yesterday, CalFire had elevated the wind wildfire risk in LA to the only color worse than red on that scale — for the first time ever.

"We've never used purple before," he said.

So there you have it. Mysteries of the cosmos. Luxury and power. Political uncertainty. Or devastating, uncontrollable, unprecedented peril.

Or Prince. Maybe we can all just focus on Prince.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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