Jet-setting magazine editor Tyler Brûlé hates the color purple for the same reason Washington loves it: Neutrality. In this week's New York Times Magazine, the editor-in-chief of Monocle unloads on the mauve menace in a combative interview with Andrew Goldman:
Tell me what you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.
I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the color purple. That’s the cardinal rule.
Did Grimace do something untoward to you as a child?
Grimace did nothing. Purple is a color compromise. You could do a presentation to a group of executives for a new brand, and you could go the very forceful hot, glossy red route and then you could maybe show them the more matte, conservative deep navy route. Weak agencies or a weak chairman will then just end up with a mélange of the two, and you get purple, a color of compromise.
Interestingly enough, purple's compromising blend of red and blue is the same reason it was elevated to official Washington's color-of-choice: It conveys objectivity and impartiality. At an institutional level, you have DC's Purple Strategies, the bipartisan public affairs firm happy to take conservative or liberal dollars. At a fashion level, journalists wear the purple tie to convey objectivity. Just ask The New York Times' Eric Wilson, who dove deep into the subject back in 2008 during the Obama-McCain campaigns:
A silvery shade of purple happens to be in vogue at the moment because it goes with a lot of the gray fabrics of the season. But in this election, the news media’s objectivity has also been part of the story, with complaints that the press is alternatively too soft on Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama. So rather than risk the appearance of favoritism by wearing red or blue, the press has gone purple ...
“Purple is the new neutral,” said Jim Moore, the creative director of GQ, who was making a point with two meanings ... This is not an isolated trend, as the list goes on. In the last week, Charles Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Al Roker, Michael Reagan, Jay Leno (while introducing an “Obama Mia!” sketch), Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post and Jim Lehrer have worn variants of the plum cravat, plus a pocket square in Mr. Roker’s case. Even Brian Williams, not a big fan of the style pages, wore a tie that could be described as a soft periwinkle for his interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
So there you have it, Brûlé. Stay out of Washington. It likes its purple just fine.