Beige Color – History and values. Article by Executive Director of RUNWAY MAGAZINE, Color Expert Guillaumette Duplaix.
Beige is a light, sandy fawn color like a pale, grayish yellow and can also be used to describe pale and light brown shades. Its hex code is #F5F5DC. Beige takes its name from the French word for natural wool, which has been neither bleached nor dyed.
Pantone 14-1118 Tpx BEIGE Color / #D4B895
RGB: 212 – 184 – 149
CMYK: 0 – 14 – 37 – 22
REPRODUCTION OF BEIGE
Printed and Web reproduction:
RGB: 245 – 245 – 220
CMYK: 0 – 0 – 10 – 4
HSL: 60 – 10 – 96
I read somewhere a comment about BEIGE: “… In the 19th century, beige was not considered a color. It was only popular for those who could not afford dyed clothes…”
BEIGE is not a color!
BEIGE is a range of shades, a TERM more than a color. A term used particularly in the clothing and fashion industry.
What is BEIGE? Some will tell you it’s the color of sand, eggshell, ecru, ivory… A range of shades between white and brown. Knowing that you get brown by mixing several colors and you get a cool or warm shade.
When you mention BEIGE, the interpretation is blurred because it’s multiple. Depending on the industry: Decoration, textiles, cosmetics… BEIGE takes on a different and countless hue. BEIGE can be off-white, pale gray, brown, warm tone, cool tone… to name a few.
HISTORY OF BEIGE
BEIGE is a natural hue for any textile that has not been dyed or bleached.
According to optical tests, the human eye can distinguish 200 shades, not beyond. When you are told about millions of colors for a screen, computer… it’s absurd, you won’t see them. BEIGE is represented by dozens of shades, not all of them visible. In the 18th century, Diderot and d’Alembert wrote in their encyclopedia a list of shades.
In 1861, Michel-Eugene Chevreul included it in his list of “Names of colors most frequently used in conversation and in books”.
In the center of the color circle is written “Mr. Chevreul’s chromatic circle containing the pure colors of 1861”. The circle presents 72 shades of wool which, multiplied by 200 shades for each hue, give 14,400 referenced and codified colors based on the 3 primary colors (yellow, red, blue) and the 3 binary colors (orange, green, and purple).
The Circle was created and developed by Chevreul, director of the Gobelins dyeing workshop. Chevreul’s invention presented to the Academy of Sciences on May 12, 1851, earned the manufactures the gold medal of the 1851 London Universal Exhibition.
There are multiple variations of BEIGE, ranging from off-white to very light brown. We also find it in more yellowish tones.
If you translate an RGB BEIGE to a CMYK BEIGE, it will inevitably be more yellow.
When preparing your file for printing: For halftone solids (such as beige), it is necessary to avoid differences of less than 20% between cyan, magenta, and yellow. The hue will then be more uniform and reproducible over the years.
The AFNOR X08-010 standard, General Systematic Classification of Colors, placed the chromatic field of BEIGE between yellow-green and yellow-orange, with a dominant wavelength of 573 nm to 588 nm, desaturated, with an average brightness.
WORLD WAR I & BEIGE
In 1914, World War I broke out and everyone thought it would last only a few months, but it lasted for 4 long years. Beige took its place alongside Grey and Dark Blue. Women worked while men were at war.
It was a time of duty and modesty. As men went off to fight on the front lines, women took over their positions in munitions factories, offices, and farms.
During this terrible war, fashion styles changed. Lines simplified and the differences between women’s and men’s fashion began to blur. “Practicality” and beige took priority!
The SAHARIAN style – SAFARI
A safari jacket or bush jacket also known as a “shacket” is a garment originally designed for the purpose of going on safari in the African bush.
The Sahariane of Safari was a men’s jacket created in the late 19th century, worn by the British army in India. It was also worn during World War II by the Afrika Korps. The Safari was primarily worn by Western soldiers engaged in hot regions of the East, Africa, or India.
Originally, the safari jacket was created with 4 pockets, a belt, made of cotton or linen.
Twenty years later, the safari jacket served as a costume for Clark Gable in “Mogambo”.
In 1967, Yves Saint Laurent made the safari jacket a timeless feminine garment.
BEIGE AND PAINTERS
With the rise of Cubism at the beginning of the 20th century, beige took a prominent place, particularly with artists such as Georges Braque and Picasso, who used wrapping papers, newspapers, sand, and earth in their works.
BEIGE & Communication
Beige became prominent in advertising as early as 1907, particularly in the advertisement for Kellogg’s corn flakes, created in 1894 by Will Kellogg.
At the beginning of the 20th century, toy manufacturers Morris Michtom created the famous teddy bear, named after U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was often called “Teddy.” In 1902,
President Roosevelt was invited by the governor of Mississippi to a bear hunt. This event resulted in several cartoons, including the first one featuring a black bear and a disgusted Theodore Roosevelt. Other cartoons followed, depicting the bear as smaller and cuter.
Since then, the teddy bear has stood the test of time, becoming increasingly popular and coming in various shades of beige.
BEIGE & Fashion
BEIGE has returned to FENDI, CHANEL, DIOR and many others, as a timeless shade.
Beige entered the world of fashion through Coco Chanel: She became an orphan at the age of 12 and went to live in an abbey. All her inspiration came from that time, and her collections were black, white, and beige.
During World War I in particular, Coco Chanel was influenced by the fluidity of women’s clothing during that era and created less fitted garments. This made her very popular during the time of World War I.
Beige became a color of distinction and elegance when Gabrielle Chanel began selling her fluid garments dominated by white and beige. Black became more prominent later on.
Fendi is the most representative fashion house of timeless elegance, mastering its image. A beautiful family story.
Fendi’s color palette evolves in warm colors, including black and white. Not everyone has the precision of Fendi, which has created its own beige: ALBA direct Pantone tone.
Burberry’s was originally a British tailor, specializing in the making of men’s coats and raincoats. In 1880, Thomas Burberry created gabardine, a fabric that protected from the cold, was resistant to rain, and was very practical, as it was made waterproof before weaving. The origin of this creation came from a meeting with a shepherd wearing a jacket that had the particularity of being waterproof. The man explained to him the process and products used during sheep baths, which had the property of protecting the wool from bad weather.
Iconic brand, created in 1968. Based on a concept of “casual” elegance with natural colors ranging from brown to BEIGE. Representative of the American lifestyle that would later be embraced in Europe.
BEIGE & Society
The beginning of the hippie movement was in the 1960s. The young American generation rejected the “American way of life,” the submission to authority. On the other hand, they began to reject consumer society and put forward ecological and egalitarian values. The origin of this societal upheaval, particularly in environmental awareness, can be traced back to this point: In the 1960s, Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” alerted to the harmful effects of pesticide use.
This book served as a reference for an increasingly powerful environmental movement that changed the perception of nature.
This was followed by the first Earth Day in 1970. The Clean Air Act was signed in the United States in 1972, followed by the Clean Water Act and the Pesticide Control Act.
n 1971, the Keep America Beautiful association released a public service advertisement (PSA) called “Crying Indian” on Earth Day. This campaign featured an Indian paddling a canoe. The closer he got to a big city, the more pollution and waste he witnessed. A tear rolled down the Indian’s face. This campaign, considered one of the best of the 20th century, added further interest to natural colors, including BEIGE.
This communication, along with climate change and environmental concerns, led to a desire for calm and serenity. As a result, BEIGE became a “trend.”
We have seen a growing interest in suede clothing, natural materials, etc. The Hippie style found its place.
In the 1990s, the Zen style emerged. It was a minimalist world made of natural materials. For your information, “zen” means meditation and encompasses an entire philosophy. We saw spas and body care products explode in the international market.
Swiss architect Peter Zumthor designed the Vals Thermal Baths in a modern style with natural textures. Other designers followed suit.
For a Zen-style decoration, neutral, soft, and calming colors are chosen to enhance natural light, such as off-white or cream white, ivory, and BEIGE.
INTERPRETATION OF BEIGE
There is a very old color name that includes a range of mostly grayish BEIGE, called “Isabelle,” which is mostly attributed to the color of horses or dogs’ coats.
BEIGE has always asserted itself over time and through changing fashion trends for two reasons, technical and psychological. The technical reason emerged during wars or recessions. Natural tones do not require special treatment. The psychological reason is that BEIGE brings you back to the essentials and relaxes you.
What do you think?
Executive Director of RUNWAY MAGAZINE, Color Expert Guillaumette Duplaix