Sunday 15 March 2015

The Triumph of Black

Early this morning I was lying in bed half listening to various people talking about colours on the World Service. Every decade, it seems, has its defining colours, and we of the 2010s have ended up in an overwhelmingly black decade, relieved only by greys and subfusc shades of brown. The colours of the Sixties were black-and-white (as in Op Art) and, by contrast, sunshine yellow, which in the Seventies darkened into orange and purple/maroon, while the Eighties brought us electric blue, reds and greens before subsiding into grey, ushering in the first wave of black, followed by many weary years of every new trend anywhere being identified as 'the new black'.
 And now black reigns supreme, as a quick survey of one's fellow public transport passengers and pavement-walkers in town (let alone cars, technology etc) confirms - a sea of black and grey with various dull browns. I too, I must confess, conform to the chromatic zeitgeist, at least in terms of outerwear (shirts and ties are another matter). We seem to have achieved, five decades on, the vision of Danny (and Presuming Ed) at the end of Withnail and I - but I don't think fashion trends were uppermost in their mind...
 'They're selling hippie wigs in Woolworths, man. The greatest decade in the history of mankind is over. And, as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black.'
 Incidentally, when I first heard the Rolling Stones' Paint It Black, I took the first line to be 'I see a radio and I want it painted black.' Which seemed a reasonable ambition, but rather limited.
 (Still more incidentally, I watched Withnail yet again a few weeks ago, and it only seems to get better with age - rather like the finest wines available to man...)


  1. Just off to Paris Nige where everyone on the metro will be wearing black or dark colours. I think it looks tremendously stylish fitting well with the French existential, gauloise-toking ambience. The great thing about black apparel is that a small flash of colour against it - a red scarf perhaps- stands out beautifully. Hoping to see much Manet and Redon at the Musée d'Orsay.

  2. Yes there's a lot to be said for black - after all it was the great Beau Bummell who taught us to dress in black and white (and the French nicked it, of course). Enjoy Paris!