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Ever Green

From furniture design to clothes, from boutique hotel interiors to car liveries, the colour green is certainly ‘having a moment’. We consider the rich history and cultural resonance of this year’s hottest hue
Words: Adam Hay-Nicholls

Green Ferrari are rare, which makes them eye-catching even when the hue is subtle. Varieties of verde account for just one per cent of the Prancing Horse in existence, yet the marque has noticed a surge in popularity in tandem with other areas of luxury and creativity. 

This year, 2023, has seen green declared the colour of choice in both the fashion and interior design fields, and is at the heart of contemporary art and architectural movements. Green has deep meanings and resonances: it is the colour of nature and rebirth, and in some cultures is a symbol of immortality, fertility, purity and wealth. 

To the Irish, it represents luck; the colour of the shamrock. In an automotive context, there have been superstitions about the colour green, born from the early days of the American NASCAR series in particular (racer Lee Oldfield was killed in a green machine in 1910, and Gaston Chevrolet a decade later), but this didn’t extend to the United Kingdom where British Racing Green has been the signature hue for racing cars since before the war – and given the success of a great number of green racers, we can surely discount the harbingers of doom.

The eye-catching LaFerrari in Signal Green chosen by Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay

At New York’s Metropolitan Museum a current exhibition entitled ‘A Passion for Jade’ reveals the colour’s importance in antiquity. Jade gemstone – which remains highly-prized in east Asia – doesn’t shatter or break when carved, and was equated with human virtues such as intelligence, truth and loyalty by the Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Meanwhile, in ancient Egypt, Cleopatra cherished her emeralds. 

Since the beginning of this year, Fashion Weeks around the world have been filled with emerald, jade, mint, olive, khaki, ivy, apple, sage, matcha, forest, pistachio, moss, sea foam and lime. The Bottega green that started this renaissance looks anything but natural. It is blunt, bold, brash and full of energy; the colour of green-screen technology. 

Sophisticated and calming, green is also having an interiors moment. Walk into any newly-furbished cocktail bar, boutique hotel or on-trend members club and plonk yourself on the emerald velvet sofa. Observe the green-and-white striped linens. Admire the rich green walls, often painted in ‘Palm’, a Farrow & Ball shade described as ‘a love letter to the iconic palms that dot the LA skyline’, or ‘Vining Ivy’ – a deep, shaded Caribbean aqua that has been touted as the 2023 Colour of the Year by industry leaders PPG and Glidden. 

From left to right: One of the looks from the new Ferrari Fall/Winter fashion collection; The interior of luxury Hotel La Palma in Capri; Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in Poissy, France, with clover green ground floor

Then there was the Signal Green LaFerrari owned by Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay. It’s a very similar hue to that subsequently concocted by Bottega. “I think it gives the car a personality, a uniqueness, and it deserves it,” the singer said upon delivery. Hinting at its environmental benefits, Ferrari chose a sharp matte green for its 599 GTB HY-KERS hybrid concept, revealed in 2010 at the Geneva Motor Show, which flagged the future Ferrari direction of state-of-the-art powertrains.

And now Ferrari, fashion and the colour green come together in the latest exciting apparel collection by Ferrari Creative Director Rocco Iannone, who has embraced the colour in his Fall-Winter ready-to-wear collection. “It’s a colour we’ve fully utilised and that defined our latest fashion show,” confirms Iannone. “The green that we’ve used is known as Abetone Green, and has a blue nuance that makes it especially elegant and generous. It’s deep, intense, marked by a certain sensuality that renders it voluptuous and seductive,” he enthuses.

The 599 GTB Fiorano ‘HY-KERS’ prototype hybrid Ferrari in 2010

“In our Collection, it’s been used for various leather garments and gloves. It’s ultra-light, with a surface that is slightly rubbery and matte. We made a suit in shearling and an entire section of garments in Q-cycle, our special nylon made from used tyres. Our Ferrari clutch bag, which takes

the outline and shape of our cars, was painted in our own paint shop, using the same pigments as those used in our cars and with the same ‘recipe’.” 

He concludes: “Green is a key colour in the design world. It was very much in vogue in the 1950s and ‘60s, and recently it’s made a comeback as an important colour option.”