Thursday, September 18, 2008

Given Wall Street's grim and grimmer state of affairs, it should come as no surprise that black rules the palette for fall '08. Dark and dour seems to fit the country's mood perfectly. But here's a surprise: Imperial purple, the ultimate symbol of wealth and well-being, is making a comeback, too. (Prince will be so happy to hear this!)

Purple got its imperial rep back in the days of antiquity when only the veddy, veddy rich could afford the expensive dye, thereby distinguishing royalty from the great, brown-clad masses. It's a potent symbol, embraced by everyone from anti-apartheid activists to Jimi Hendrix to novelist Alice Walker, for whom "The Color Purple" means love.

Today, you'll find this luxuriant hue cropping up in handbags, from proper ladylike totes to boho fringe fests. You'll find it in sunglasses, and for the over-40 set, "readers," like the grape-colored doodads, above, from Anthropologie. Indulge in sweet little dresses and chic bowed blouses. We're particularly enamored of these suede peep-toe booties from Marc Jacobs. (Sigh.) Or, you can go the most economically prudent route, and paint your nails a deep, rich violet.

We figure that this season, embracing the purple aesthetic is a bit like donning body armor. Wrap yourself in royalty and so shall ye become it, immune from the travails of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch or AIG.

(We hope.)

-- Teresa Wiltz

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