Pop Culture
Jan 05, 2024, 06:24AM

Everything Will Be Peachy in 2024, According to Pantone

The Color of The Year is ready for you to take a bite. 

Pantone color chip 13 1023 tcx.jpeg?ixlib=rails 2.1

This year is going to be just peachy, or Peach Fuzz 13-1023, to be exact. It's 2024’s Color of The Year, an annual designation given to one color (or on occasion, two) of the Pantone Color Institute's over 15,000 hue library. According to Pantone, Peach Fuzz "captures our desire to nurture ourselves and others. It's a velvety gentle peach tone whose all-embracing spirit enriches mind, body, and soul."

Peach Fuzz stands in high contrast to last year's pick, Viva Magenta 18-1750, which Pantone notes was inspired by cochineal red, in addition to emerging technologies, like the metaverse. Viva Magenta was introduced as a color that "galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength" under the headline banner "welcome to the Magentaverse." While last year's color vivaciously infused insect-based color into an evolving virtual universe, this year’s choice takes a delicate, restorative approach that stays positively grounded in the physical human experience.

Pantone starts working on the Color of the Year selection process early on in the year, continually revising and narrowing down their list until the winner’s announced in December. So, instead of the selection being a prediction of what consumers will want in the future, it’s a reflection of the zeitgeist, a pigmented snapshot of the current state of affairs. In an interview with WWD in 2021, Laurie Pressman, Vice President of Pantone noted that the color “serves as an expression of a mood or an attitude on the part of the consumers, a color that will resonate around the world, a color that reflects what people are looking for and what they feel they need that color to answer.” For example, one of Pantone’s two picks for 2021 was Illuminating 13-0647, strategically worn by poet Amanda Gorman to President Biden’s inauguration, and chosen in part to reflect the positivity that his defeat of former President Donald Trump connoted for many. Peach Fuzz similarly reflects a sense of hope for the future that’s built on the hardships of the present.

Although this is the first time the color peach has been given such an official title, it is hardly the first time in history it’s gained notoriety. Archaeological studies point to evidence that peach trees were first domesticated in China over 7000 years ago. Since then, peaches have become entrenched in Chinese culture, symbolizing longevity and even immortality. Shou Lao (Shou Xing), the God of Longevity, is usually depicted holding a peach, his bald, protruding forehead mirroring the fruit’s curvaceous shape. They are immortalizing forces in the myth The Peaches of Immortality, while a peach orchard becomes the site for a lifelong pact between the protagonists of the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Peaches are also used both literally and figuratively in Chinese medicine, with both the fruit’s flesh and seed thought to contain healing elements, as well as protection against evil spirits. Today, longevity buns (baos) in the shape of peaches are a popular dish at celebratory gatherings, especially for birthdays.

The color peach was also prevalent in the Rococo (Late Baroque) period in France. It complemented other soft pastels including baby blue and pink as part of a design philosophy that emphasized sinuous curves, ornamentality and theatricality at a time when the public grew increasingly discontented with the status quo of their monarchy in the lead-up to the French Revolution. The young woman in Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s famous 1767 painting The Swing is wearing a peachy-pink robe a la francaise with matching shoes that she seductively kicks off towards her lover. When elements of 18th-century design made a comeback in the 1920s—and objects like the robe a la francaise were reinterpreted as a robe de style—peach once again became fashionable until well into the 1930s. Interestingly enough—although, perhaps not wholly coincidentally—this was during the Great Depression, another period of heightened income inequality between socioeconomic classes on the precipice of a massive shift in the global balance of power. As peach takes the spotlight again this year, the Russian invasion of Ukraine will soon be entering its third year, only to be eclipsed by the war between Israel and Hamas, heightening tensions and laying bare political alliances worldwide. Escalating crises doubtlessly played a role in Pantone’s search for a color that signifies the alleviation of human suffering.

On a contemporary note, the peach symbol has been a major part of text messaging vernacular, especially sexting, since its inclusion in the text encoding standard Unicode 6.0 in 2010, and subsequently the Unicode Technical Standard Emoji 1.0 in 2015. Resembling a well-rounded pair of buttocks, the peach has been deftly inserted into conversations as sexual innuendo, or in some cases to indicate butts, vulvas, or sexual acts, in order to bypass what some believe is increased censorship of certain “adult” or sensitive content on social media. In 2023, content creators worldwide documented their quest for a peach-shaped ice cream that went viral on social media, prompting increased peach emoji usage— exactly the kind of far-reaching event that informs Pantone’s selection.

Peach has been found in prominent facets of both Eastern and Western cultures and history, in both serious and lighthearted contexts. Imbued with the rare combination of ancient meaning as well as contemporary street cred, peach seems to be the right color for the time. As wars rage on and we’re presented with the rumblings of discontent, it makes sense to reach for Peach Fuzz, a color that’s decidedly the opposite: sensual, yet calming, healing, and maybe even subconsciously promoting the quest for immortality that biohacking billionaires like Bryan Johnson are so avidly promoting in the public sphere. Pantone can’t predict the future, but it can set the tone (pun intended) for what’s to come by tapping into current events, discourse, and sentiments, and right now, Peach Fuzz seems to capture it all. 

Doris Domoszlai-Lantner is an historian and archivist of fashion and dress. Read more about her work at www.dorisddl.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @doris_ddl 


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