It started with the saucer-size camellia blossoms my husband snipped from the garden, bringing them to the dining table in baskets spilling with names I came to know as friends . . . the R.L. Wheeler and Frank Houser, Betty Sheffield, and the ridiculously voluptuous, self-named, Marilyn Monroe. Each one seemed to me a perfection of ruffly petals around a golden center of light.
Then, I noticed how the winter sun lowered itself over the marsh and went shimmying through the house until every ordinary nook was shaking with rose light - it brought me, over and over, to an enlightened standstill. Next thing I know I’ve designed the whole house to capture this luminosity - coral rugs from Morocco, African mud cloth with flushed cheeks, camellia colored curtains. Somewhere in there, I fell hard for pink.
It’s not what I would have expected. After all, pink suffers from some bad brand marketing. Think about the pink triangles in Nazi Germany, the dreaded pink slip at the office, the pink ribbon on a lapel - or, on the 50 yard line, pink football shoes - reminding us that every two minutes a woman falls to breast cancer.
Even at it’s best, pink suggests innocence, tenderness, romance, and girly things. But did you know that until the 1930s, pink was a color for boys? Think a paler shade of red, a warrior in the making. People thought that blue, after all, was a more delicate color for girls.
So, why this obsession? Well, for one thing, in my untiring search for beautiful, old textiles I learned that natural dyes of cochineal and madder created a good red, but natural dyes fade, and so a gorgeous, lived-in, textured, weathered pink resulted with age. Kind of like me, I think. I still have the cheeky red in me, but it’s mellowed, it’s taken on texture with age.
I used to banish pink from my life - like many women under 30 do - and opt for serious black and important-feeling colors. But now, I find myself loving the power in things once banished. Like women on the sides of life throughout the world whose skills have never been valued or celebrated. Like pink work called such because it is done by women. Like artisans who are subdued by poverty, but still have a golden center running through them, strong and proud and blossoming with hope.
This is the New Pink. It will change things. And men look good in it, too:)
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker