A ‘drab, dark brown’ hue of not very pleasant assertions, whether you are witnessing it up, close and personal or are just playing along to the not so favourable disposition of the narratives, is a particular shade of color widely ridiculed to be the ugliest in the world. The Pantone 448 C, a muted shade of brown with quite decipherable green streaks is a color that might tend to strike as close to being olive green in radiance, as it did to the Australian Department of Health who settled on its perceived ugliness in 2012 to make it the colour for plain tobacco and cigarette packaging in the country as a move to deter the masses for smoking. Following suit some years later have been a number of countries all around the world who unequivocally seemed to settle on the consensus of the universal unappealingness of the doomed shade of color. Not surprisingly though, since survey after survey has pointed out just how close this ill fated hue reminds people of everything equally drab and dreary, from repelling associations with ‘tar’ and ‘dirty’ to more frightening allegorical links to the all undoing nature of that entity called ‘death’.
The murky hue’s worldwide prominence to fame as the ugliest color there ever has been is also a consequence of its perceived awareness that led it to being the chosen shade of all things tobacco, rather than being the other way around. Repulsive perhaps in just how close this particular shade of ugliness tends to be in its resemblance of the shade of human fecal matter, even when surprisingly that has not been one of the accounting factors behind its disrepute, at least not explicitly so, is part the reason why the Pantone 448 C had to end up with this dishonorable mention. In fact so offensive has been notions associated with this pigment in circulation that its initial positioning as bearing resemblance to the olive green shade incited opposition from the Australian Olive Association, following which the references were tweaked to put it in a light more ‘justified’ of the outrageous identity newly imposed upon its self.
This though has been controversial, not so profoundly perhaps but still to quite an extent, this naming of a color as outright ugly and unsightly so as to banish it to project forever the realms of a world much uglier and desolate seems to be somewhat of an injustice to its innate beauty as a color after all, especially in the context of just how different colors take on different interpretations of beauty dependent on what they are placed or projected against. Much like beauty itself that does not have an universal connotation, lying rather in the eyes of the beholder, colors too are as personal and as exclusive an awareness in themselves. Not even the colors perceived as the prettiest of the lot have the entire world of humans as their die hard fans which is why we also have reason to believe that the Pantone 448 C would not be equally despised by all, irrespective of the popular opinion that has come to be bestowed on it. Not very surprisingly therefore, there are many who beg to differ from this attributed but arbitrary serving of unwantedness from the scope of the Pantone 448 C shade, instead viewing it more in light with its essence as a hue that can indeed take the world by storm in reality, and not in any exaggerated exaltation of it.
At the Pantone Color Institute as well, the shade is associated inextricably with ‘deep, rich earth tones’, the exact factors that matter so much in aesthetic expressions of fashion and lifestyle elements as well as nuanced workings of art, establishing it therefore as a color no less beautiful than any of the others. It is then quite a pleasant surprise to discover that this shade not so much fancied in its relative dreariness finds expression in one of the world’s most recognisable pieces of art- the enigmatic portrayal of a mysterious Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci wherein the ever smiling lady is seen clad in a dress and shawl of a similar shade, in interpretation of popular fashion influences of that time. Also featuring this shade of dreariness is Vincent van Gogh’s “Olive Trees Against a Slope of a Hill” and Edvard Munch’s “Puberty” asserting therefore its essence as a rather classy shade of nature that bears the ability to find resonance through the ages, much like all other colors of the world.
More modern assertions of its beauty finds the Pantone 448 C shade to emerge as a prominent hue in the makeup palette, that is not in any way a diversion from what has been construed as a (sickly) mixture of brown and green but still radiantly beautiful enough to hold its own within the more flamboyant and contemporary workings of the style world. Lending itself also impeccably well to striking display of haute couture fashion on ramps and runways is this very earthy shade of a green imbued brown, as it does also to really refined and classic incorporations into home decor, indeed as Pantone itself asserts “a beautifully patina-ed antique armoire or an earthy brown tufted leather sofa” are what comes so stylishly alive in the beauty of a hue that has been serving more than its purpose ever since it came to gain a distinctive milieu in the public spectrum. Even in its identification as the ugliest color of the world, the Pantone 448 C has little to lose for what it has been doing through this very identity is also a refined take on life and beauty. If in all its submission to the regressive, typecast visage of the human world that seeks beauty only in the bright and the vivid and the striking and not in the subtle and the understated and the demure has this color go a long way in potentially saving precious human lives by purportedly putting them off of such tobacco products that come dressed in expressions of it, then the Pantone 448 C has aced a beauty that only the most revolutionary elements of the world can claim to rest in.