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Color analysis (art)
In the cosmetics and fashion industry, color analysis, also called skin tone color matching, personal color or seasonal color, is the process of finding colors of clothing and makeup to match a person's skin complexion, eye color, and hair color. The goal is to determine the colors that best suit an individual's natural coloring and the result is often used as an aid to wardrobe planning and style consulting. Color analysis was most popular in the early 1980s.
There are a wide variety of approaches to analyzing personal coloring. The most well-known is "seasonal" color analysis, which places individual coloring into four general categories: Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. More recent systems subdivide the seasons into 12 or 16 categories. Many different versions of seasonal analysis have been developed and promoted by image and color consultants worldwide. Some color analysis systems classify an individual's personal combination of hair color, eye color and skin tone using labels that refer to a color's "temperature" (cool blue vs. warm yellow) and the degree to which the hair, skin and eye colors contrast. Color analysis demonstrates how colors are capable of being flattering or, conversely, unflattering. Colors that are unsuitable for the individual can make a person look pale, for instance, or draw attention to such flaws as wrinkles or uneven skin tone.
One practical application for color analysis is that by limiting wardrobe color choices a person will likely find it easier to coordinate his or her clothing and accessories, thus possibly saving time, space and money. However, color analysis can also be costly for the individual, both in regard to the fees of professional and less than professional analyses, and subsequent clothing and cosmetics purchases. One problem is that there is no standard training or degree required to market oneself as a color analyst. Color analysis is a marketing ploy that has been controversial since its beginnings.
Michel Eugène Chevreul (1786–1889) was a French chemist and superintendent at the Gobelins Manufactory in Paris. He wrote four treatises on color, making him the authority on color theory in the mid to late 19th century. His principles of successive contrast (an afterimage effect) and simultaneous contrast (how two colors next to one another will mix in the mind's eye) had a significant impact on the fine and industrial arts. In the 1850s, Chevreul's ideas on color harmony were prescribed for an American audience lacking any education in color harmony.Godey's Lady's Book (1855 and 1859) introduced "gaudy" American women to Chevreul's idea of "becoming colors" for brunettes and blondes.
- Spring colors are clear and bright, just like the colors of a spring day. The sun is low on the horizon, so everything is imbued with the golden hues of the sun. The trees and grass have not yet matured, so they are tinged with yellow undertones and are a bright spring green color. Distinct yellow undertones impart a vibrant, electric appearance to everything. The colors of this season are truly like a spring bouquet of flowers enveloped in bright spring green leafy foliage: red-orange and coral tulips, bright yellow jonquils and daffodils.
- The colors of this season are muted with blue undertones (think of looking at the scenery through a dusky summer haze). Late summer blossoms, a frothy ocean and white beaches are seen everywhere. Baby blue, slate blue, periwinkle, powder pink, seafoam green and slate grey are typical Summer colors.
- Autumn colors are virtually indistinguishable from the rich, earthy colors of the season for which they were named. They are as golden-hued as a fall day, and it is impossible to mistake them for any other season. Typical colors from the palette include pumpkin, mustard yellow, burnt orange, brown, camel, beige, avocado green, rust and teal. Autumn colors are perennially popular, because they bring a feeling of warmth and security. The painting by Millais personifies the color of autumn.
- The colors from this season are clear and icy, like a winter's day; always with subtle blue undertones. To name a few: hollyberry red, emerald and evergreen, royal blue, magenta and violet. Winter inspires pictures of winter berries, pine green conifers and black and white huskies racing through snow.
- Most rely upon a color system in which the colors are divided into four groups of harmonious colors which are said to match with the four seasons of the year. The seasons are, to some degree, arbitrary, and it sometimes happens that someone will be on the cusp of two seasons. But, as Carole Jackson insists, "with testing, one palette will prove to be better [more harmonious] than the other." Jackson also acknowledges, however, that the reference to the four seasons is nothing more than a convenient artifice: "We could call your coloring 'Type A,', 'Type B,' and so on, but comparison with the seasons provides a more poetic way to describe your coloring and your best colors."
- An individual's basic color category, or season, remains the same over his or her lifetime, and is not affected by tanning, because "[w]e still have the same color skin, but in a darker hue."
- Skin color, rather than hair or eye color, determines a person's season. Bernice Kentner warns, "Remember, do not rely on hair coloring to find your Season!"
- A person's color season has nothing to do with the season of his or her birth or favorite season of the year.
The degree of contrast between the wearer's skin and his / her hair and eyes should be reflected in the degree of contrast between the colors in his / her clothes. "[The] great variety of shadings ... can be scaled down into two basic formats: contrast or muted. If your hair is dark and your skin light, you have a contrast format. If your hair and skin tone are similar, your complexion would be considered muted or tonal." A high-contrast individual should dress in clothes with highly contrasting colors. The result will be that the "high-contrast format [of the clothing] actually invites the eye to look at [the wearer's] face because of its compatibility with his [dark] hair and light skin." By contrast, "Encasing a low-intensity complexion within a higher-contrast setting dilutes the face's natural pigmentation in addition to distracting the viewer's eye."
One or more of the tones in the skin and hair should be repeated in an article of clothing near the face. One option is to repeat the color of the hair in a jacket, tie or scarf, in order to "frame" the face: "The obvious choice of suit shade would be that which repeated his hair color, thereby drawing the observer's attention to what was bracketed in between--in other words, his face." Flusser uses a series of photos of models to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve attractive results by repeating the eye color or the skin tones in clothing articles that are close to the face, and that it is even more desirable to use several colors in the clothes to match some combination of skin / hair / eye colors.
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