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​How to use White for Spring 2016 October 1, 2015

Garment District, Manhattan
​How to use White for Spring 2016, Manhattan, New York

By Marcie Cooperman on Sep, 28 2015

Dolce and Gabbana Sp2016Dolce and Gabbana

White is the ‘It’ color this season – so pervasive that it’s easy to see what an influence it will be on RTW and mass market lines. We see white used on its own, but white is an unsurpassed and indomitable contrast to chromatic and achromatic hues. The visual benefits: a value contrast, a hue contrast, a pattern background, an iconic symbol, and to create a relaxed vibe and fresh summer look. Many lines have explored several of these dimensions.

Tod’s plays with achromatic contrasts balancing various widths of black line against a white ground.

Tod’s SS2016Tod’s SS2016

Oscar de la Renta refreshes these patterns with light and airy white grounds, showing the young and springy effect white has on small patterns. The pattern colors are almost irrelevant, except that red pops out, confirming itself as the hue with the most visual strength. White’s simultaneous contrast darkens every color because every hue actually is darker than white…the highest of all possible values.

Oscar de la Renta SS2016Oscar de la Renta SS2016

Large color-blocked areas gain from proximity to white, too. Carmen Marc Valvo’s colors glow through the contrast, softened ever so slightly by ombré effects as the colors edge into white. The white ground enhances the value and therefore the visibility of the blue feathery fabric strips in the dress on the right.

Carmen Marc Valvo SS2016Carmen Marc Valvo SS2016

In his Spring 2016 collection, Marc Jacobs exploited the iconic cultural and political combination of red, white and blue, so dominant that it overtakes his patterns and clothing shapes. Just in case the meaning was unclear, the stars and stripes reinforce it. In the center image, we can see the darkening effects of the white ground on the small patterns. The yellow gains visual strength by virtue of its size, but aside from that, the hues take second stage to the compositional element of individually placed shapes on white ground.

Marc Jacobs SS2016Marc Jacobs SS2016

Ralph Lauren also was moved to design with red, white and blue for a more classic look, including a series of elegant blue and white gowns with a breathtaking use of hue and pattern. The pattern elements’ size and placement are equivalent, amounting to comparable visual strength, so that neither the white nor the blue dominates. And the lines of the gowns flow effortlessly around the female form, undisturbed by obtrusive color.

Ralph Lauren SS2016Ralph Lauren SS2016

Ralph Lauren SS2016Ralph Lauren SS2016

Gareth Pugh worked with the super-value contrast of achromatics black and white, including a red and white gown amazingly giving the same effect.

Gareth Pugh SS2016Gareth Pugh SS2016

The highest and lowest of values create the strongest of contrasts, compelling a number of designers to work with this relationship this season, such as Prabel Gurung, Olivia Palermo, Alexander Wang, Jasper Conran, and Jason Wu.

Prabel Gurung Resort 2016Prabel Gurung Resort 2016

Olivia PalermoOlivia Palermo

Alexander WangAlexander Wang

Jasper Conran S2016Jasper Conran S2016

Jason WuJason Wu S2016

White - consider the benefits of this particular hue. Its visual strength allows it to contrast perfectly against black; its singular value places it in a position of strength against every chromatic hue, and its character gives it importance as the ground for patterns of all kinds. Its emotional strength also gives it meaning as the iconic summer dress, with a freshness that appeals to every market segment.

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