Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shades of Prunelle




Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen my YouTube link to an old Harper's Bazaar video. Titled "The Fashion Message for Fall 1971", the video featured China Machado interviewing Bill Blass, Halston, and the like for their thoughts on Fall fashion for 1971. When Machado asked Geoffrey Beene for his color forecast, he mentioned teal blue and "a color the French call prunelle". Prunelle? That would be a plummy, prune color. At first I thought how very Seventh Avenue to use the French word for this color, but then again, wouldn't you prefer to wear a prunelle dress rather than a prune dress? It reminded me of an interview I saw with Vera Wang in which she described the color of her living room as "moutarde" rather than mustard. And I'm guilty of slapping fancy names on colors. Have you ever heard me say that I adore an eggplant lacquered room? Nope. I always say aubergine. I suppose it just sounds more exotic than it really is. Pretentious? I think it just might be.


Anyway, I started to think about prune in the home. I wonder why this color is not seen more often in interiors? Are we biased towards the color because of its name? Do we shudder at the thought of its medicinal effects? (When I see the word prune, I immediately think of the prune juice that was on the menu for years and years at The Cloister. I bet when they decided to go after the glamorous set a few years ago they got rid of that item on the menu!) Or, is it just an ugly color?


I don't think I would want a prune colored room. Instead, I'd choose either brown or aubergine. I mean eggplant. But, what about a chair seat covered in prune colored leather or mohair? The chair frame would need to be something other than brown wood, perhaps a creamy ivory or even a smoky gray would be pretty. Or, I could see a glossy ceramic lamp in prunelle. And prune might look pretty smashing mixed with glints of gold and hand rubbed brass. I'm certainly not trying to sell you on coloring your world prune, but it's not that bad of a color. You only need it in small doses- like prune juice.



Do a search on Neiman Marcus for prune and this Ferragamo shoe pops up.


What do you think? Is Farrow and Ball's "Pelt" a shade of prune?


This Calvin Klein fabric from Kravet is Ligne in Prune.


A prune commode by Cote France via Decorati

Image at top: Good luck finding a room with prune accents in it. Perhaps there's a reason for it. This room is kind of pruney, although perhaps it's more plummy. And guess who's responsible for it? Billy Baldwin.

29 comments:

  1. So it certainly isn't my favorite color, but you may have converted me. Perhaps "prune" isn't so bad after all. The Farrow & Ball and Ferragamo hues are actually quite nice---who would have thought? Thank you for broadening my color palette!

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  2. I think deep plum sounds much better.

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  3. You've probably already heard, but plum/prunelle/aubergine is about to be all the rage in decor. My spies at my local design shop have loads of purple inbound for the next year.

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  4. I just love your thought process...:)

    Lets not forget about MAUVE-same in french and english

    (Prunelle could also be a fruit scented hand sanitizer....)

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  5. I guess quite a few people have purple, aubergine, prunelle, and prune on the brain! Prunelle as a hand sanitizer- good idea! I think it's actually a plum liqueur too.

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  6. I love it. Let's face it, it's PURPLE and people are weird about purple! :) I'd probably call it aubergine too. It is so delicious with a citrusy green and hot pink. and maybe aqua.

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  7. Holly- So true, people are funny about purple. Love aubergine with aqua- that's a gorgeous color combo.

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  8. While I am not a purple person, I think "prunelle" is a beautiful color. Used in small doses, like you said, on a shoe, a pillow, a glass vase, it would add a touch of mysterious drama... "is it brown or is it purple?" But it needs a new name. I'll bet more people would use it if it sounded less prune-y.

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  9. This morning I was just thinking about "eggplant" and chocolate brown and all of the shades in between while deciding which was going to be really big this fall. The word "prune" never crossed even a corner of my brain, but it certainly does fit. But the glossy, rich yummy color, with no connotations of "dried" as in "dead"--. Thanks for clarifying the words and the colors.
    Have a great week.

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  10. I don't know if you know about Carol Marine's website. She paints a small painting a day and puts on ebay to auction. Today's painting is aubergine. Although, quite frankly I can't tell if it's an eggplant or an olive. I am leaning to eggplant, but maybe it's because I am hungrier than an olive. Anyway, take a peak. Purple rain is on the horizon.

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  11. Pelt is one of my favorites. In a study with a gloss it looks fabulous.

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  12. It seems to be a shade that is right in line with other shades "of the moment", dusky mauve, nudes, greys, and taupes. I personally would choose aubergine over this but I think it's a nice color in it's own right. As with anything it just needs to executed well.

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  13. Ah...j'dore la prunelle !

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  14. Hello, Jennifer-


    Yes, all colors sound better in French. Think of 'Eau de Nil' for a vaguely murky pale green color. Think of 'rose' for pink. Or you can always throw around Chartreuse (the drink, the place, the color), or 'blanc cassee' (should be an acute accent on the first e) for off-white. I also love 'poivre' for a dark brown similar to a peppercorn and if you think about it 'turquoise' is French and translates to 'Turkish'...referring to the beautiful turquoise glazes on Turkish traditional tiles. We owe so much to French design--and language.
    Thanks for a lively, witty, and insightful post,
    cheers, www.thestylesaloniste.com

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  15. Hello, Jennifer-


    Yes, all colors sound better in French. Think of 'Eau de Nil' for a vaguely murky pale green color. Think of 'rose' for pink. Or you can always throw around Chartreuse (the drink, the place, the color), or 'blanc cassee' (should be an acute accent on the first e) for off-white. I also love 'poivre' for a dark brown similar to a peppercorn and if you think about it 'turquoise' is French and translates to 'Turkish'...referring to the beautiful turquoise glazes on Turkish traditional tiles. We owe so much to French design--and language.
    Thanks for a lively, witty, and insightful post,
    cheers, www.thestylesaloniste.com

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  16. This post is so brilliant I want to marry it.

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  17. Diane- I've never thought to call dark brown "poivre", but I will do so now. It sounds so much better!

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  18. Thank you Mamacita! Such a compliment!

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  19. Once, I saw a room with dark prune-y laquered walls. Whenever I think of it, I still can not decide whether it was hideous or genius - I am certain it was nowhere in between, however.

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  20. I've always felt that it was easier to talk about color when speaking french. They have many more very specific words for colors. For me, the english version of prunelle, and the words that first pop up in seeing the color is dark plum, as someone mentioned earlier. I think of aubergine as a British word somehow, but also a slightly darker color. Either way a purple with black and brown overtones is the only acceptable one for me, but I love it.

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  21. Anonymous5:30 PM

    This color also used to be called puse, but I don't think anybody liked the sound of that or knew what color it really was.

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  22. This color really is deep, just look at what it does on the various textures you show in your post. Seems more than a few seasons ago, Kravet, Robert Allen were calling something close to this "raisen" ("currant" being quite different). Pleased to learn this knew word, prunelle. As a textile worker, I've been fond of it for some time and didn't know it! Cheers-

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  23. This post cracked me up! I'm American, but have lived in Europe for the last 10 years (5 in Paris, 4 in Amsterdam and now currently in Berlin) and my problem so often is I pick up new words for things and FORGET that they aren't the word in English. I've started speaking this illiterate garble of languages - and sometimes I have to remind myself prune is simply prune! My favorite French word is the one for trash... Poubelle! Now doesn't that sound better?

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  24. Oh that commode stole my heart!!! Thanks, yet again, for causing me to stop and think a moment. And, I'm not sure why, but all of this talk of prune..and the photos... has made me think of Autumn.

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  25. You've got one whole-hearted vote from me. Whatever you call it, eggplant is a wonderful colour, and the deeper the shade, the better I like it.

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  26. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Hello POC....While I do not shop there, the most recent "Peruvian Connection" catalogue is brimming with "prunelle" ranging from velvets, paisleys, tweed & silks.
    All industries seem to be taking note.....was at the Merchandise Mart (CHI) this week and textile/passementerie manufacturers are rolling this color/shade out by the millions of yards.
    A bit oppressive and Victorian nuanced for me, though...........Cheers, Ali (WI)

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  27. Late to the dance- but, Prunelle- I love it! I think Farrow and Ball take the cake with color calls. Prunelle is right off the charts-sounds like. I can imagine the VWang would much prefer Moutarde to Mustard any day. Adore the Cote France piece. I did an aubergine dining room once- should post a pic- used golds and greens with it.
    wonderful post,

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  28. I watched the clip on YouTube last night, and it was terrific. I cannot believe how 1971 seems so long ago it may as well be 1871.
    Anne Klein herself...I swoon. Thanks for the great post!

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  29. Anonymous10:25 PM

    I've always loved the color purple, prunelle, aubergine! It's been in decor a lot the past year. Looks fantastic with 'pea' green or even better with charcoal gray and silver accents. --Cindy @ www.InteriorMinded.com

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