Monday, February 7, 2011

Celebration of Mauve

Today I wanted to try something different, something a bit more focused. This entry, as well as the ones to follow will focus on visual inspiration though colour along with a little history on the mentioned hue.

While browsing tumblr, I found a few Marie Antoinette pics with Kirsten Dunst in this gorgeous mauve dress. And so began my hours of research on the colour mauve.

Now her dress is more of an opera mauve (rgb 183, 132, 167), which was first recorded in the English language in 1927. Oh but there is so much more to this colour. The colour itself was first discovered in 1856 by William Perkins, a scientist who was analyzing quinine (an anti-malarial substance) and later noticed a purple residue in one of the tubes. This residue, containing ailine, was refined, patented, and named mauveine before Perkins was 18 years old. It was one of the first synthetic dyes, as most fabrics at the time were still being dyed with natural substances.

Tyrian purple, the purple dye before mauveine, was very expensive to produce because it was made from the glandular mucus of sea snails, thus most royalty wore it. It was a deeper purple and sometimes referred to as imperial purple or royal purple.

The popularity of Perkin's discovery and it's affordability resulted in Britain's "Mauve Decade" during the 1890's. Queen Victoria wore the colour as well as Eugenie de Montijo (wife of Napoleon III), thus creating more hype for the hue. I'm not sure if Marie Antoinette ever wore it since it came well after her time. I guess I should do more research about that.

So what happened to the ever-so popular mauve? Well, like most things that spark a trend, the colour became overused and people grew tired of it. Also, William Perkins proved that there was a market for synthetic dyes and more people began to experiment; therefore more colours were created and made available to the masses.

And with that I give you some visual stimuli. Here are some flickr favs with mauve.

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