From fashion to music, it’s time to turn up the colour
"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Remember that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps into the fantasy world of Oz - post-cyclone - and everything switches to surreally bright, glorious Technicolor?
Spring/Summer 2012 finds us over the rainbow in a fashion cyberworld. So full of colour, clothes seem to take on a kinetic energy all of their own. Even a trip to the mall can feel like you've landed inside a 3D HDTV 152 inch plasma screen with colour and brightness turned up to the max.
Add to all the fizzy pastels and lurid neons a kaleidoscope of Photoshop prints and the result is one of the most eye-popping seasons in memory; and it isn't exclusive to fashion, either.
You will find the same kind of synthetically enhanced, frenzied colour on the cover of Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto album as you can on Michael Kors's techno-silk crepe anoraks. It's even seeping through to kitchen units at Ikea and iPad covers (who hasn't got one in fluorescent pink?).
The reason for this extraordinarily and naively optimistic, uplifting palette has got something to do with the fact, commercially, that hey, it's tough out there.
Besides fashion, there's so much choice about what to spend money on. If you are superrich, it could be a luxury AgustaWestland helicopter designed by Karl Lagerfeld, not simply a Chanel handbag.
For the less wealthy, there are so many enticing peer-to-peer e-commerce sites popping up, like Material Wrld, which calls itself "a prettier and friendlier eBay with social features", why even buy new?
Run of the mill fashion designers have responded collectively by delivering the right 'wow' for now; clothes so colourful and playful they screeeeeam to be noticed, and ideally bought.
This season's saccharine bright skirts, shoes, earrings and lipsticks have been dreamt up to dare you to join in with fashion and to equally show everyone else that you are doing just this.
The last time graphic, bold techno brights hit fashion was in the 1990s when Helmut Lang blurred them with neutrals. After the recession of the 1980s, this hinted at prosperity to come and turned the entire compass of fashion around.
Before that it was the rebellious Acid House of the 1980s, which brought the raw energy of 'street fashion', sports and club gear into high fashion.
Other colour bursts in fashion history include Punk Rock and of course the pop art 1960s and psychedelic 1970s, which used the energetic properties of colour as an expression of new found liberation and assertiveness, especially for young people.
In truth, fashion holds up a mirror to society generally. What we see on the catwalks each season is an overall "state of mind" or as the French would say, a l'air du temps.
This time around, some of the unusual colour combinations are not only the result of new developments in digital printing and textile technology, where dyes can withstand more pigment, but also the result of diverse inspirations dreamt up by computer-savvy designers.
Jonathan Saunders, whose current collection of toxic yellows, limes, lipstick pinks and oranges pretty much sums up spring/summer 2012, cites hand-painted Edwardian portraiture and the way women dressed in the home in the 1950s as roots for his breakout range.
"I discovered how the hand painterly element was juxtaposed by an artificial colour palette," is how Saunders explained his souped up artificial tones heightened by shiny fabrics which added to a "modern" not Retro feel.
Other designers, including Katy Perry's favourite, Manish Arora, went down the kitsch India route, inspired by the diverse cultures of India, from Bollywood to stylised deities.
What do we feel about actually wearing all these exuberant, look-at-me colours, particularly all at once as the catwalks advocated? If you are the sort who prefers the sort of effortlessly, wearable clothes you can throw on and forget about, look no further than a pair of orange jeans or narrow, silk trousers (Joseph do a great pair) and wear with a printed T-shirt, and perhaps a few bright accessories. Even a bra strap of a neon yellow lace Victoria Secrets bra can punch up a slouchy top. Meanwhile, an orange alligator skin Vertu phone will send out a coded signal about how cool and clued up you are about fashion.
Those wanting to jump in at the deep end must experiment with the piece of the season (no, not Dorothy's ruby slippers): a form-fitting dress with added peplum in a shade of hot pink.
You might also like to try a sporty blouson or parka in a vivid silk. Throw over practically anything and you are good to go.
Updated: April 15, 2012 04:00 AM