A World of Colour in London
This SDC London region event took place at London College of Fashion. With thanks to SDC members Sue Williams and Pat Hardcastle for writing the report.
Richard Ashworth, SDC’s Colour Experience Manager, gave his annual address then gave it a twist when we learnt how humans need red, green and blue sensors before we discovered a shrimp can see colour better than we can in some ways. We learnt about the evolution of colour vision and also colour deficiency which can be determined by the Ishihara test, and which affects 1/8 males and 0.05% females due to genetics. If we stared at colours we learnt that the complementary colours would be seen due to the de-saturation of the cones where we would see an after image of the complementary colours. Due to simultaneous contrast it seemed we could see more colours than were presented. Hence the brain can be fooled. Some females can actually see better colour than normal due to an extra sensitivity of the yellow/ green cones where they have a fourth sensitivity. Unfortunately they cannot be tested but they are normally the mothers of colour blind children. Finally we were shown an optical illusion of a cat turning clock or anti clockwise and then a circle of pink dots moving anticlockwise which had a pink dot and finally the pink dots disappearing. Can we really believe our eyes!!
Jane Kellock opened by saying that there was no science involved in her industry! Jane is the founder and creative director of Unique Style Platform, a trend company which offers intelligent analysis to the fashion and style industries. Prior to setting up her own company Jane had worked for WGSN and was also a member of the British Colour Council prior to working with Top Shop. The trend methodology was guided initially by instinct, backed up by research and analysis, the information used by her team changed every day. Key influences driving trend forecasting included street style, pop culture, technology and entrepreneurial influencers. Jane showed an example of how an innovative hair salon in London created graduated pink hair which went on to influence street clothing in varying shades of pink which then became a very popular pink coat seen in the mass market. Colour creates emotion and colour and images were the instinctive factors which started off the trend process.
Following the networking break the third speaker was Raf Mulla, a solutions architect from X Rite. Raf has worked in the field of colour for over 12 years and his current role involves building processes and solutions for customers to manage their colour processes. Raf opened by showing the audience three versions of a khaki brown and asking them to describe the difference between each, which highlighted how differently people compared colours. He then showed how changes in lighting affected colour perception as well as a person’s subjectivity and mood. In order for colour to be accurate across a large supply base it needed to be quantified and the use of spectral data and colour measurement equations allowed a mathematical and not an emotional response for approval. He showed how L*a*b* could represent the colours we had difficulty describing and show colour differences visually as well as the difference DL*, Da*, Db*. A wide range of industries now use colour measurement techniques among them paint, plastics, print, car manufacturers as well as the traditional one of textiles and more recently the process has been introduced into the cosmetics industry. The reason being that perception is subjective and measurement is objective!
Josie Owusu-Amankrah, a young textile designer was the fourth speaker. Josie graduated in 2013 with a degree in Textile Design and had recently completed her Masters in Fashion. Her work had been exhibited in several exhibitions, most notably at the Calais Lace Museum and New Designers 2013. Like Jane, a previous speaker, Josie said primary research was key and that she took inspiration from everything around her as well as checking out catwalk and trend books. Josie hand draws her designs as it’s more personal before digitally printing them on luxury fabrics, she plays around with colour and also dyes her own shades. Josie is known for her luxury printed resort wear and accessories but has also worked with tree bark incorporated with wool, mohair and cashmere to design winter jackets.
Katherine Lewiston, a Freelance Designer, gave a presentation entitled ‘From Concept to Production’ which shared her experience of how major high street brands collect and follow trend information, how this is then distilled to suit the target customer and the seasonal colour palette is created. Kathy presented a wonderful story brought to life with historical printed paper and silk samples kindly provided by M&S demonstrating the development and changes in industry following the rapid technical innovations in CAD systems.
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