While we present a conference about “color thinking” on September 20th, it seems like a good time to take an interest in a rich and subversive color, whose ambivalences fascinate: pink!

“Pink : the history of a punk, pretty, powerful colour” – Valerie Steele

Present in our last two « color of the week », (« Palest Pink » succeeding to « Pomelo »), pink comes in a multitude of nuances. Artless and transgressive, precious or vulgar, from the symbol of femininity to a post-gender vision, the perception of pink never stopped evolving drastically. This complexity is the object of an exhibition at the FIT Museum in New York, designed by the fashion historian Valerie Steele.

Luca Khouri

Hanna Rückert


In Western History, the vision of the color pink went from one extreme to the other during the last three centuries, with a pretty unstable relationship with genre. It took time for pink to become emancipated from the color red and to be considered as a full color. Its link with red, color of blood, of the uniform of the soldiers, connected it to the strength and the decision-making power attributed to men. It is with the Romantic movement, in the 18th that pink strayed from red. « It acquired the symbolism of tenderness (it is a softer red, deprived of its warlike character), of the sweetness (we still say ” to see everything through rose- colored glasses “) explains Pastoureau in The Little Book of Colors. “With its negative side, the preciousness (the sentimental « à l’eau de rose » expression is from the 19th). »

The Little Book of Colors”  Michel Pastoureau et Dominique Simonnet

It is only in the 20th century that pink becomes the symbol of hyper-feminization. If the universe of girls toys is essentially pink, for the brand Mattel, it is a real trademark. In the 80s-90s, under the figure of the legendary Barbie doll, conveying an unrealistic image of the women body, the flashy pink becomes THE « girly » color.

“Forever Young” – Exposition au musée de la mode d’Hasselt

Fashion Show « the Line 13 of the future » by the students of Casa93 – Eric Garault

Return to the pastel – the millennial pink

In 2007, the cutting edge Swedish brand Acne Studios launched its salmon colored shopping bags; Following the movement, Apple launched their first Rose Gold Iphone at the end of 2015. In 2017, the « millenial pink » conquers the planet, the Instagram feeds of all influencers and became the symbole of a generation, positioning itself as a neutral color regarding gender.

Political pink

The pink strayed from the color of the harmless, the innocence and takes a political bend. We can notice the recent appearance of the color in a number of militant protests, since the pink pussyhats in the anti-Trump Women’s March in the USA up to the gang Gulabi in India, or in the triangle still used today by certain LGBTQ associations (as Act Up).

This « Pink Power » is for example claimed in the recently opened pop-up store of the magazine Paulette, whose « all pink » scenography was designed by french artist Garance Vallée.

Paulette Pop-up store opened from 15 till 22 September, 126 rue of Turenne 75003 Paris – Instagram @paulette

Inside, the Pink trend even extends to food, via collaborations with brand such as Season and Dear Muesli, like presented below.

Instagram @paulette

At the end of the day, both soft and strong, feminine and androgynous, Pink is a powerful color which transcends its contradictions to continue to surprise us!


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