Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Red Week, Wednesday

I am beginning to wonder how I will go back to normality next week. After two weeks of all-out colour, even the dull grey or black of my most trusted pair of tights seems an unattractive prospect.

"So what are you wearing today then?" has become a regular greeting, and amusing comments like today's, "you look like a cherry" are standard.

Of course I won't miss everything about looking like a walking stop sign. This morning a drunken man followed me down Sheperd's Bush road shouting "RED! RED!" after me, as though I was a rare species to be spotted or a dastardly villain to be persued. The image of an exotic animal appeals, and I have always like the sound of Miss Scarlet in the billiards room with the candlestick, but being neither I proceeded to speed-walk to college.

At lunch I pounced on the opportunity of talking to one of the few straight males on my course to get his view on the colour red. I asked him what the colour red on a woman said to a man. His answer was simple. Sex.

It's interesting to think about our clothes from different perspectives. Putting on my red lipstick this week I have seen someone strong and confident facing me off in the mirror. In my mind's eye the red me uses lipstick like warpaint and would casually slay batallions with a smile. Yet she certainly wouldn't give two hoots what any man thought about those painted lips; because Little Miss Red is no wallflower. But perhaps that is where the attraction lies.

I am finding out that different colours are heavy with different connotations, yet colour in itself can also be hugely powerful. In today's broadcast lecture we were experimenting setting up shots that used lighting and surroundings to reflect a certain mood or character. We followed our lecturer to a fragmented shard of afternoon light lingering in the courtyard, whereupon he pulled me out in front of the class to stand in the light. "Just look how this works," he said, my face turning as red as my outfit as a class full of intent eyes turned on me, "the light shines on her but just look at the grey surroundings (the 'courtyard' is a generous description for an industrial looking carpark)... dressed all in red she is a light too. This image says vibrancy, and a ray of sunshine in a dark world."

It makes me wonder how we have become so addicted to our wardrobes of grey and black anyway. For lots of people wearing black is a statement; much in the same way that wearing colour can say so much, the absence of it can be hugely important too. But for a lot of people I think the gloominess of their wardrobes is purely accidental. It goes something like this: you start with a black dress (because it's a classic). Right, it's cold so now we need tights (reach for those black opaques). Shoes next, and a pair of black pumps (because they are comfy and black goes with black after all). Finally it's time to put your coat on, and that is black too (because it was an 'investment' buy, so black seemed the fail-safe option). Before you know it you have left the house dressed like the Grim Reaper.

I have done it too. It's a vicious cycle that is difficult and, as these two weeks have proven, often socially unacceptable to break out of. But I don't care. I choose sunshine.



  1. Love your head-to-toe pink and red clothes Libs, such a great statement of your personality! I am also very impressed with how you have bravely faced the stares, I certainly couldn't have done it at 19......and there are photos to prove how I got dress sense so wrong in the early 80's!! keep it up! Pippa xx