Always known as a powerful color, red has made its mark in the fashion world ever since the 16th-century. It isn’t a color for the lighthearted, it definitely speaks of boldness and power any way you wear it, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, red is every where. But let’s dig a little deeper and see how this color actually came to be.
While there are archived photos documenting the use of certain red-dyed textiles in Turkey and France as far back as the 16th-century, it isn’t until Versailles, Louis XIV and the 17-century – specifically 1643, that red was associated with power. France was known to be an elitist and absolutist state with a growing aristocratic culture. Being that it was such a large country, it was hard to keep a watchful eye over the aristocrats, keeping them from power and reign. A system was implemented – red heels. Louis XIV and anyone in the courts who had royal favor was honored by wearing and showing off their red heeled shoes, thus being recognized as reigning power.
This of course meant that even if you were related to royalty and fell out of royal favor by misbehaving or disobeying, the red heels privilege was lifted until granted favor again. In fact, there are many photos depicting Louis XIV showing off his heels, while other family members appear to be “outcasts”. Ouch – that must have hurt the ego walking around the royal courts among aristocrats and royals! The red trend definitely caught on the rest of Europe and eventually worldwide. Since the red dye was processed from an insect originating in Mexico, the cochineal – it remained an expensive trend for several years; available only to the elite and upper class. It actually wasn’t until the 1800s when synthetic dyes were invented that it became available to the general public, regardless of class or social stature.
Nowadays red stands a symbol of various things. People associate the color with love, the “red-light district”, holiness for some religions, while happiness and good luck for others. Still one thing is clear, red stands out. It’s a bold color that no matter how minimal, the statement is nevertheless a loud one! Many designers decided to showcase this color in non-traditional ways, entire pant-suits in red is a definite statement of power. I love it! Can you imagine a top level execute walking into a corporate meeting wearing a head-to-toe red ensemble?! Ha! Let the negotiations begin, bring it! Some of my favorite looks for Spring 2011 included Carolina Herrera and Marc Jacobs. I love the flow and delicate fabrics used to express elements of bravery and femininity. Carolina Herrera stands out to me as a designer anyway, she knows women and caters to them. Some of the satins in the collection look flattering and inviting; that’s a tough concept when working with such elements. While we can’t all be dressed in head-to-toe Marc Jacobs, Vera or Matthew Ames (another favorite, btw!!), we can create our own version of these looks.
Red is a fun color as it is so there isn’t much thought that goes into it really. Best way to pull off this trend is to simply add one element. A red dress like the one above is the perfect palette to start with, merchandise (thanks Carrie Bradshaw) it with some gold accents and you’re good to go! When wearing a red dress, it’s really up to you what color shoes you’d like to add. You can choose from nude, black or stick with red. It might seem like too much red but, as you see in some of the runway looks…it can be done – with class! Think about an all red look with just the right splash of black added to the shoes and bag, really polished. Or vice-versa!
The trend can also be pulled off with a simple red scarf, a pair of red gloves, red tights or even a red headband. Sometimes all you need is a splash. Ladies Valentine’s Day is coming up. And whether you’re single or not does not matter. This is the perfect opportunity to dress up in red garb, put on a sexy red dress or buy those red heels you’ve always wanted. We might not be in the 17-century anymore but a pair of red heeled Christian Louboutin’s definitely speak power, boldness and class…until next time, ladies!!
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