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mad for magenta


The following excerpt from an article in Paper Magazine was written by the very colorful editor, Kim Hastreiter.

My partner, David, always reminds me that only half the people in the world are visual people, so I suppose that half of you may read this, scratch your head and think I'm nuts. I apologize in advance for that, but in any case, please bear with my genetic predisposition as I share my latest amateur mad-scientist theory on color.

Ever since I was 6 years old, my favorite plaything was my 64-color box of Crayola crayons. I grew up loving to color and draw, but I equally adored spending hours sorting my crayons into my favorite groupings, arranging them by hues that I thought looked beautiful together. I was always scheming for a way to trade my uglier colors to my sister and friends. My favorite Crayola color of all was definitely Magenta. That was the crayon that always wore down faster than the others and the color I always looked for in a barter situation. I hated rusts and purples. And I had definite opinions at that early age as to why Burnt Umber was ugly and Chartreuse was beautiful, or why Chartreuse or Orange next to Magenta caused my heart to beat faster and made me want to jump up and down. Or why Olive Green was dull and boring until you put it next to Salmon Pink or Robin's Egg Blue.

Forty-some-odd years later, you would think I would have grown out of this. Not. Today, I am drawn to color as if I were still a child, and my instincts are identical to those of the time I was 6. I still scream when I see an incredible color juxtaposition. I love jelly beans, search high and low for magenta shoes and spend days ferreting out the perfect apricot-color hibiscus to sit next to my periwinkle morning glories in my summer garden. I collect orange and hot pink nail varnishes and fire engine red lipsticks, and am constantly searching for Day-Glo socks to wear, as all of mine have holes in them. Even when I troll the farmers market, I go right for the rubine radishes and bright yellow and orange peppers, and will often choose vegetables according to their color rather than their taste. And then there are beets. Borscht is my favorite. Imagine, a hot pink soup! How gorgeous. (Think I'm nuts yet?)

Today, as I write this column, my toenails are painted a shocking tint of milky magenta (courtesy of Chanel No. 57) to match the hot pink skirt and jacket I have on, offset only by the bright turquoise drops hanging from my ears. Funny about those drops. They were a thoughtful gift from my friend, jewelry designer Ted Muehling, an aesthete who, although he is just as fanatical about color as I am, would rather die than wear anything bright-not to mention turquoise. Muehling is a brilliant visual master, and I'm sure he also loved his 64-color box of Crayolas as a child. But I'm also sure he never coveted the same colors that I did. Ted is instinctively attracted to an entirely different palette, the polar opposite of mine. When you walk into his studio, you are surrounded by a symphony of gorgeous quiet, dusty, often melancholic colors like subtle mushrooms, dusty steel grays, moss greens, sandy ecrus. Something about his genetic makeup draws him to quiet, understated, muted palettes, while I'm attracted to bright, peacocklike ones. Surprise, surprise-Ted is a quiet, humble, deep, shy skeptic, and I am more of a loud, optimistic, simplistic chatterbox.........

My amateur theory? I believe a visual person's color sense is their own highly personal language and is as definitive to them as their fingerprints are. Vastly different from the mere sense of sight, it is also the key ingredient to that mysterious abstract quality we call good taste.


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