We all live in a yellow submarine: from Cher Horowitz to Moonrise Kingdom, Ella Kemp discusses why we’re obsessed with Gen-Z yellow…
As a wise woman once said, although style remains, fashion fades. And as today we do more, want more, use more all the time, it seems to be fading ever faster. You may be familiar with a comfortable trend in cosy blush hues, the coveted millennial pink. Well I’d like to say you heard it here first, but it turns out that holy Bible of all things good for young women, Man Repeller, spotted its downfall and predicted its successor: Gen-Z Yellow first.
While MR does an excellent job of explaining the new trendy colour’s affluence and uses, we’re here with a different prerogative. Gen-Z Yellow, while being greatly indicative of our contemporary loves and hates, sees its roots long before we even thought to add timestamps to colours to show that we like them. Millennial pink saw a rise from huge trendsetters like Glossier, taking the hint of pigment and giving it podium-worthy fame. But the Beatles guessed it, Coldplay grabbed it, and I’m calling it – they sang it and we saw it, Gen-Z Yellow was born in the movies, and it is in fact the clothes of our beloved characters that subconsciously influence our favourite tones today.
To use a greater phrase yet again to explain the point here – we all know that art imitates reality. But in our use of colour, we are all proving, at least sartorially, that reality imitates art. Esteemed directors are remembered for their bold stylistic choices: David Fincher has adopted dark hues of blue and grey in Gone Girl and Fight Club, while Guillermo Del Toro pretty much has a patent on forest green. And if you have a think about indie darling Wes Anderson? That’s right, Gen-Z Yellow is all over his filmography.
Moonrise Kingdom proves this most accurately in the costumes of its cohort of block colour kids. Suzy’s poster dress may be pink, but of her first impression, we remember yellow. The colour compliments Anderson’s colorized camera, always suggesting the nostalgia of hazy mid-afternoon heat, as well as the framework of every boy scout there.
Elsewhere, even if you haven’t seen Kill Bill it’s difficult to forget Uma Thurman’s electrifying bright yellow catsuit. Too often, the dreaded ‘strong female lead’ is suited up in shiny black leather, or even a naff red PU, to prove that she has a potential bite to her. Here, Uma’s yellow outfit not only makes her magnetizing aura even more radiant, but it also disregards gendered colour in opposing pinks, blues and the like while creating the most iconic outfit of the decade.
And it’s not only women in film – both Breaking Bad and even Peep Show have adopted yellow for instances of danger, awkwardness and everything inbetween. Every Halloween from now until forever will see Walt and Jesses aplenty in their yellow hazmat suits, while Mark’s garish raincoat proved he is Britain’s biggest sartorial nightmare in Peep Show.
Bam. A New Year’s Eve fancy dress blinder from Mark Corrigan… pic.twitter.com/rNG7JGpWDp
— Ed Grimble (@Ed_Grimble) August 16, 2017
Men have also adopted the colour in creating iconic onscreen memories. Prometheus is littered searing shades of yellow intensity. In 2001: A Space Odyssey while there are so many historic moments, it’s difficult to forget the lemon-yellow spacesuit walking down its monochrome container. Yellow has then marked the anomaly, the individual, the leading character in a mission that others would take on in black and white.
Past the shock factor, yellow is used for the purposes you’d expect as well. In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the colour is the simple starting accessory used to suggest the protagonist’s upbeat happy-go-lucky nature, giving sunshine its fabric at last. In the history books, Lorraine Bracco made her mark in Goodfellas in bold dresses from red to bright yellow, ever memorable among the many dark suits. And who could forget the timeless teenage inspiration of Cher Horowitz and her yellow plaid suit in Clueless?
Yellow is a colour that has followed us onscreen and off, from early sci-fi to contemporary dreams. We could never forget and we probably never will the gamechanger that was La La Land – for Ryan Gosling, for Damien Chazelle but most importantly for Emma Stone and her iconic poster dress, it’s hard to see the bright shades against the dusky purples of the L.A. skyline leaving our romantic minds anytime soon.
From childhood frivolity to sci-fi anomalies, passing through the birth of timeless off-screen inspiration it’s clear to see that the colour yellow started flexing its fashion muscles way before our generation even knew the alphabet. But with modern musicals and a spring in our sartorial step, there’s no time like the present to celebrate its rebirth and the continued support of film’s best colours – whatever its on-trend name may be.
Follow Ella on Twitter: @ella_kemp