Have you noticed the grey? Not just 50 Shades (the top selling book of the decade we’re told), but in car parks, on Pinterest, in Elle Decoration and on the catwalk. There is a theory (which we probably shouldn’t take very seriously) that major fashion trends only become obvious at the halfway point of each decade, so now might be a good time to make a call. Sales of grey t-shirts have risen hugely recently. So have sales of grey and silver cars.
So what’s the story? According to Oriole Cullen, a senior curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, grey was historically associated with half-mourning. In other words, if a family member died you traditionally wore black, but if someone more removed died the colour of choice was grey. So are we in some kind of collective mourning? Are we mourning the loss of something back in the day? (a phrase, like grey, that seems to have popped up out of nowhere recently). No, that’s not it. In fashion terms grey sits well with other colours. It’s also an ideal colour to showcase expensive fabrics. But ignore all this.
My view is that the most likely explanation for the rise of grey and silver tones is rampant anxiety. Silver cocoons you, either as paint on the wall, on a computer, as clothing or as a car exterior colour. Crucially, silver subconsciously represents armour and is protection against rapid change and deep uncertainty. Grey, similarly, represents solidity in the form of stone and stands for stability. Or, of course, it could all just be the whims of the facile fashion industry.