Back To The Fuchsia: Why The Pink Power Suit Rules In 2020

Olivia Ovenden
Photo credit: Getty / Esquire UK

From Esquire

Remember millennial pink? Pantone's joint colour of the year from 2016 cropped up on everything from trainers to scarves, rugs to phone cases. The problem which everyone – including this humble magazine – faced, was trying to decide what colour it actually was. Answers ranged from salmony apricot to dusty rose, with pink being the only common thread between the swatches of colour.

Pink suits, from the relaxed rose cord two-piece Timothée Chalamet wore on the Pretty Women press tour, to the dusty pink tailoring of Andrew Scott at the SAG Awards, continue to have their moment in the sun. In the last year, the pink suit has been a move attempted by some of Hollywood's more maverick style figures, with names like Mahershala Ali and Chadwick Boseman proving the pull of pink.

Perhaps millennial pink wasn't so much a flash in the pan trend as it was announcing the loud arrival of the colour.

In May of last year, Nicholas Hoult wore a powder pink suit designed by Kim Jones for the S/S '19 Dior men's collection. Loose-fitting, and with a jacket that wrapped around the body, it was an entirely new way to wear something very familiar.

Timothée Chalamet, the razor-cheeked, jewelled-hoodie wearing Hollywood wunderkind, has turned to the light side for his recent red carpet appearances, debuting the aforementioned cord two-piece, as well as a neon pink silk suit from Stella McCartney's womenswear line, both in the space of a month. The actor is emblematic of a new kind of masculinity, one that leans into a colour that's still riddled with tired gender connotations.

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Even in our age of blurring lines between mens- and womenswear, a time where chest rigs worn underneath suits are – excuse the pun – de rigueur, there is still something rule-breaking and transgressive about a pink suit, something exciting about doubling down on the shade instead of relegating it to a pop of colour in your socks. Taking the most quintessentially male item of clothing and reinventing it through a colour seen as definitively female feels maverick, even if that's a disappointing symptom of how people cling to this gender definitions. It's visually exciting too, delicious like a perfect ice cream cone.

Men and pink have a complicated history. One of the greatest crimes of Jay Gatsby, the enigmatic lead character in F Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel, is not his treatment of Daisy Buchanan, but apparently his choice in tailoring. "An Oxford man... like hell he is! He wears a pink suit," says his love rival Tom Buchanan, revealing his belief that there is something anti-intellectual about the colour.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

This isn't to say that pink was always seen as a girly shade – in fact there was a time it was seen as the reverse. "In the 18th century, it was perfectly masculine for a man to wear a pink silk suit with floral embroidery," fashion scholar Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute Technology, told The Atlantic in 2013, adding that it was "considered slightly masculine as a diminutive of red," which was seen as a "warlike" colour.

Pink and blue were later used to differentiate between baby boys and baby girls, and decades of girl-targeted Barbie toys and sanitary products in various shades of pink ensured it was a colour most straight men avoided. But pink has been stealthily infiltrating menswear in recent years, as runway shows reclaim the colour.

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The Dior men's S/S '20 show last June featured pink trench coats, jackets, shirts, jumpers, socks and even jacket lapels, all of which walked down a runway of pink sand. This January, in Paris, a model walked the runway at Rochas Homme in a dusty pink velvet two piece, another for Louis Vuitton in a boxy shell-suit the same colour as Barbie's Dream House. In Milan there was a checked, flared-leg suit in deep raspberry at the Gucci show.

Pink has filtered down from high fashion and now crops up in streetwear and beyond. Common Projects, the holy grail of minimal footwear, now does its signature Achilles trainer in a dusty pink shade. Pink denim has cropped up in the jackets of CMMN SWDN, the slouchy jumpers of Acne Studios (to match its peachy carrier bags), the linen shirts of Oliver Spencer and the cotton shorts of Norse Projects.

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Lee Goldup, menswear buyer at Browns, credits Kim Jones's candy-coloured two-piece with leading the pink revolution, saying that since Dior's show there has been a definite increase in demand for pink tailoring. "From light pink to salmon to fuchsia we have seen an amazing spectrum adorning tailoring in all shades," he says. "The trend is certainly more popular in the summer months and might have been once thought of for a braver man, but has been much more accessible and definitely shown its staying power."

Though on the high street pink is more often deployed for effect: perhaps highlighter neon for your fun pair of trunks (Love Island, we see you), or a bold choice for a beanie, pink is gradually becoming a more neutral colour.

It may be a some time before weddings across the country become flamingo flocks of men in rose tailoring, but the crop of celebrities showing how arresting a pink power suit can look show it's a trend that isn't going away.


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