Lately, my Instagram feed has been filling up with images from the exhibit Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful, Color, on display at the Museum at FIT from September 7th, 2018 to January 5th 2019.  It looks really, really cool, but as a busy and broke graduate student, it’s unlikely that I’ll get to see it in person.

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I did, however, manage to snag a copy of the companion book from my universities library. No one else in my department had a chance, as I grabbed it the second the librarian was finished cataloging it (I am totally that library patron). Edited by the chief curator and director of the museum, Valerie Steele, this book contains seven chapters with seven different authors. Each of these chapter approaches the eponymous color and its relation to fashion from a different direction.

The first chapter, written by Steele and taking up about half of the book, provides an overview of the colors relation to (primarily western) fashion throughout time. This was a great way to set the tone for the volume and provided background for the rest of the chapters.

The second chapter, by costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, explores pinks use in film costumes. Next, art curator A. Cassandra Albinson explores the color in eighteenth century portraits.  Business professor and historian Regina Lee Blaszczyk’s chapter covers pink in relation to the invention of synthetic dyes and color forecasting. This is followed by a chapter by historian and gender studies professor Dominqiue Grisard on pinks relationship to gender and race.  Curator Tanya Melendez-Escalantec contributes a chapter on how a specific shade known as “Mexican Pink” has been used in Mexico and by Mexican designers.  The book ends with a chapter by researcher and author of Japanese Fashion Cultures (Amazon, Bookshop.org) Masafumi Monden on the use and meaning of pink in Japanese fashion.

So, who is this book for? 

If you’re doing research on the color pink or anything related to the other essays in the book it’s worth picking up (perhaps alongside a copy of Jo Paoletti’s Pink and Blue). The information is definitely well researched and backed up in the footnotes. All of the chapters are well written and entertaining, which also makes it a good read for someone who is more casually interested in fashion, history, and culture. Additionally, the dozens of beautiful photos make this a great source of inspiration for designers or coffee table book for anyone.

Overall, this book was a great way to spend a few hours.  I’m going to be sad when I have to give this one back to the library!

The words "Pink The History of a Punk, Pretty, and Powerful Color" Edited by Valerie Steele above a photo of a book of the same title. The words "book review" are below.
The words "Pink book review" above a photograph of the book "Pink The History of a Punk, Pretty, and Powerful Color" Edited by Valerie Steele.