Believe in Brown
When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in a house with a downstairs bathroom done all in brown. The tiles covering the walls and floor were brown, and even the fixtures were done in the same shade of coffee. It was like stepping inside of a chocolate caramel, the epitome of 1970’s interior design. At the time, I found it hideous, but now I could imagine nothing so stylish as a monochrome bathroom.
The 1970’s influence is undeniable In contemporary fashion and beauty – I’ve previously mentioned the use of bold, retro typefaces on beauty packaging, and the cognac leather trend in fashion. Now, I’m waiting for brown makeup – I mean blushes and lipsticks and eyeshadows as well as foundations and powders – to truly come into its own as the monochromatic look of the year. It’s a little 70’s, a little 90’s, and very chic.
Regina Spektor sings that blue is the most human colour, but I believe that it is brown that fits that description best. This is one of those truly universal colours, something always present in one way or another. Brown is, after all, the colour of the average person’s skin, eyes, or hair. It may be true that the earth appears blue, the colour of skies and oceans, but the colour of humanity is brown. It’s from the brown earth we grow our food, from where we gather the clay from which we build civilization. This is the earth that gave us pigment with which to paint our worlds and ourselves.
In cosmetics, brown has long been maligned as a safe, boring choice. It looks good on everyone, and is therefore unchallenging and unimaginative. But I think that’s an ungenerous dismissal of what is really a most egalitarian colour. Might I also point out that, while brown eyeshadow is commonplace, how rare it is that browns and its harmonies are found in cosmetics where they are most needed. There’s long been a discriminatory dearth of foundation options for brown skin, a surplus of “nude” lipsticks in shades of pale pinks and peaches. Who gets to be nude, and who is simply naked, here? All I see is bare-naked racism.
So let’s not forget the benefits of brown. I think its reputation is about to improve – and in the meantime, bring me makeup in warm shades like teak and cognac and leather and caramel. Why not a lipstick the colour of walnut wood, or an espresso-dark eyeliner? Personally, I’m on the hunt for the ultimate cinnamon-coloured nail polish. And yes, brown is a safe bet, but isn’t comfort as good a cause as any in these times of stress and brutality? Isn’t there something to be said for safety?
Here’s a colour that ticks all the boxes: it is sophisticated, chic, universal. It’s diverse and harmonious. It’s beautiful! And I’m a believer.