Design Color Codex

Army Green

Image for Army Green

Fashion image provided by the author.

The COLOR CODEX series — to which SEMIOVOX has invited our semiotician colleagues from around the world to contribute — explores the unexpected associations evoked for each of us by specific colors found in the material world.

It’s the embodiment of equivocality.

A dull colour but also a warm colour, it’s a green toned down by yellow — which seems intuitively unlikely; why doesn’t the yellow brighten it up? 

Its name reflects its purpose: the fabric of military uniforms, the colour of tanks. A quick Google search brings up jeeps, camouflage patterns, and helmets, but also olives, swimsuits, and nail polish. It is a colour of war, but also a colour of nature; it was chosen for war precisely because it blends in so well with the landscape. Before it was Army Green it was Earth Green — and it still is. As such, it was an essential part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s colour palette. His Prairie Style houses were decorated in autumnal shades of orange and olive. This reflected a Japanese influence, a desire to bring the outside inside, to honour the beauty of nature.

Army Green is also (like black, white, navy, and camel) a classic fashion colour. Many fashions, such as trench coats, are borrowed from the military, and colours (like navy blue) have been adopted by fashion as well. It has become a classic not despite but because of its drabness: It is not a statement colour; it is a little bit unassuming (despite being the colour of military aggression). It is the perfect foundational colour: It sets other colours off, and it also sets off people’s complexions. It is timeless: Like nature, like war, it will always be there.

My wardrobe is full of Army Green: pants, sweaters, swimsuits, jackets, dresses (although I try not to wear them all together). My first Army Green garment was a pair of cargo pants I got when I was 12 or 13. They made me feel older and tougher than the jeans and cords I had worn at 10 and 11. I was figuring out my style. Was I Preppy, was I New Wave? Army Green pants seemed open to both possibilities. I wore them one day with a turquoise Ralph Lauren polo shirt and another day with a Betty Boop tee. They looked great with both. Many years later I am still a little bit Preppy and a little bit New Wave; a little bit tough and a little bit of a hippie. I try never to be without Army Green in my life. 

COLOR CODEX: Martha Arango (Sweden) on FALUKORV RED | Audrey Bartis (France) on KYOTO MOSS | Maciej Biedziński (Poland) on SKIN-DEEP ORANGE | Natasha Delliston (England) on MARRAKECH MINT | Whitney Dunlap-Fowler (USA) on RESURRECTION CANARY BLUE | Josh Glenn (USA) on TOLKIEN GREEN | Aiyana Gunjan (India) on LETTERBOX RED | Sarah Johnson (Canada) on ARMY GREEN | Lucia Laurent-Neva (England) on TEAL BLUE VOYAGER | Rachel Lawes (England) on DEVIL GREEN | Charles Leech (Canada) on STORMTROOPER WHITE | William Liu (China) on PINING GREEN | Ramona Lyons (USA) on GOTH PURPLE | Sónia Marques (Portugal) on RUNAWAY BURRO | Max Matus (Mexico) on CALIFORNIAN BLUE | Chirag Mediratta (Canada / India) on AUROVILLE ORANGE | Clio Meurer (France) on PARIS LUMINOUS GREY | Serdar Patkin (Turkey / England) on AMBIENT AMBER | Maria Papanthymou (Russia / Greece) on AGALMATOLITE WHITE | Vijay Parthasarathy (USA) on ALPHONSO YELLOW | Greg Rowland (England) on LAUNDROMAT FUTURA | Tim Spencer (England) on ELECTRO-EROTIC COBALT | Ximena Tobi (Argentina) on VILLA MISERIA BRICK | Alfredo Troncoso (Mexico) on BORGES GLAUQUE.


Tags: Material Color