The Colours Set to Dominate the Runways in 2023

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18-1750 Viva Magenta (3)
Viva MagentaCourtesy of Pantone

From the “vibrant positivity” of Viva Magenta to the “nourishing” Classic Green, the Pantone Color Institute predicts that these five colours are set to be big in 2023

Anyone who has ever watched The Devil Wears Prada will know Miranda Priestly’s stinging monologue to her hapless assistant Andy on the influence a single colour can have on whole swathes of human existence, from high fashion right down to the mundane. If Cerulean blue – the subject of Priestly’s icy speech – was Pantone’s inaugural colour of the year back in 2000, 2023 by contrast is set to be defined by the decidedly more vibrant Viva Magenta. The colour-matching specialists at the Pantone Color Institute filtered Viva Magenta from a smorgasbord of data, including fashion collections, films in production, travelling art shows, sports events and new technologies, and fed it through an AI generative tool to produce a visual mélange named Magentaverse. (Echoes of the metaverse may or not be coincidental, but feel neatly of the moment).

Here, we take a step inside and tour the five main colour trends set to be big this coming year.

Viva Magenta (lead image)

Trend followers might remember a similarly saturated magenta – Orchid Flower – being named colour of 2022 by trend forecasters WGSN. But with its richer, regal tone, Pantone’s newly minted colour of the year feels like a new version of Valentino’s ubiquitous Pink PP. Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, calls Viva Magenta a shade “rooted in nature, descending from the red family, demonstrating a new signal of strength,” and “a colour whose verve for life sends a message of vibrant positivity”. A mix of red and blue, Magenta is both warm and cold, natural and artificial (derived from cochineal carmine, but developed during the industrial revolution), sophisticated and vivid. Present in the Off-White and Issey Miyake Autumn/Winter 2022 collections, it was also seen adorning various sets of twins on the Gucci Spring/Summer 2023 catwalk and in myriad other shows. Pressman believes it is going to be everywhere, so watch out.

12-3604 Skylight

“It’s a combination of reasons why certain colours take greater precedence over others,” says Pressman on the colours she believes will be dominant over the course of the year. Skylight, a delicate shade of blue, is, she says, “refreshing and cooling at a time when we are looking for calm”. Seen at Fendi in both A/W22 and S/S23 collections; in romantic pieces at Collina Strada; a tiered tulle veil at Simone Rocha S/S23 and at Prabal Gurung S/S23, it sits somewhere between the sky glimpsed through a window on a soft spring day and the colour of sea foam, and provides a much-needed palate cleanse in a busy visual landscape.

17-1221 Macchiato

Back down to earth is Macchiato, a warming brown which, according to Pressman, is “evocative of craft but also provides us with comfort”. Another natural shade, macchiato is a light, foamy brown that pairs well with Viva Magenta but is also the perfect neutral for spring as well as autumn. Another break for the eyes, Pressman and her team spotted the unassuming colour in the Coach and Monse S/S23 collections among others, and it’s set to be big in interior decorating too – understandably, given its overtones of hearth and home.

18-2143 Beetroot Purple

If this shade seems close to Viva Magenta, think of it instead as its uncompromising cousin – a “bold and dramatic fuchsia hue at a time when we are looking for vibrancy and excitement”, in the words of Pressman. Again, it’s a shade derived from nature, if more on the spectrum of bright pink than the full-bodied Viva Magenta. Seen on multiple party-ready looks at LaQuan Smith S/S23, and at Patbo S/S23 (where Viva Magenta also took pride of place) this attention-grabbing colour is one for Pink PP lovers, because pink, as Derek Jarman noted in his book Chroma, is “always shocking”. 

16-6340 Classic Green

The Magentaverse may speak to our technology-driven present and future, but its visual manifestation, which calls to mind textured bark garnished with a single cochineal, looks far more rooted in our imperilled natural world. So it makes sense that a bright and cheering colour named Classic Green should round out the year’s most influential shades. This, Pressman says, is “a nourishing shade that ties us to nature, something we continually look to for inspiration and freshness”. See it at Marni, Kate Spade and Tommy Hilfiger, and everywhere in the natural world.