Much has been made of the fashionisation of books, be it Prada publishing new short fiction on its website or brands from Gucci to Bottega Veneta producing coffee-table books in artisanal leather sleeves. Last week, the worlds of publishing and style converged again when coloured-stone mining company Gemfields and publisher Thames & Hudson co-hosted a sparkling evening to launch Emerald, a history of the gemstone heavily illustrated with photographs of jewels as well as the stars who have worn them. The glamorous guests in attendance were dressed, as often as not, in – well, emerald green.
“Emerald is the dark horse of the season as well as the colour palette,” says Roland Mouret, whose autumn/winter collection includes emerald and jade body-conscious dresses (£1,250) and gowns (£1,995). “Women are so surprised at how easy emerald green is to wear. Everyone thinks it’s not going to work but it’s a winner because it looks good on every skin tone and hair colour.”
Mouret, who has dressed Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Carla Bruni in emerald green on the red carpet, adds: “Under the lights, green shines and shapes the figure, and is more powerful than black, particularly [when viewed] on social media.”
“Every woman has classic black pieces in her wardrobe, but it is much more interesting to see women experiment with colour,” says designer Roksanda Ilincic, whose collection includes an emerald green and grey checked tailored dress (£660) and bright green goat hair collar (£1,000). “I look to green for its rich and enigmatic qualities.”
Take Lanvin’s boat-neck stretch wool dress (£1,435) or Valentino’s backless lace jumpsuit (£2,205), Louis Vuitton’s check, feather-trim coat (pictured, far right) or Gucci’s emerald feathers on an olive tulle net dress (£9,070). There are other equally glamorous greens from Marc Jacobs’ strappy gown in shimmering bottle green sequins (£2,280) to Haider Ackermann’s forest green wool maxi skirt (£420). At Browns, Erdem’s luminous emerald green dress with beaded buttons (£1,370) sold out within a week. “Emerald and other greens always look great with leather and denim,” says Marcus Wainwright, who along with David Neville, is creative director of Rag & Bone. They often use green’s diverse shades in their cool, urban collections (see this season’s oversized mineral green lamb leather coat, £1,950). For them, the colour’s appeal lies in its effortless versatility.
The women who wear it say that green emits more confidence than more neutral shades. Television producer Carol Powell wears her favourite vintage satin emerald green cocktail dress with different colours for different effects. “For work, I wear it with a navy jacket – green makes me stand out in a grey world and makes people think a bit more; black is too uniform,” she says. “For a recent wedding, I wore it with a scarlet lace wrap and gold Vivienne Westwood Mary Janes. There is so much navy and black, so emerald green is exciting.”
“When I wear my emerald green Céline dress at parties I’m more approachable. The colour encourages conversation, whereas black gives off a different, more distant vibe,” says footwear designer Atalanta Weller.
Rupal Parmar, a property executive, became a convert to emerald after she turned 30. “As I work in a corporate environment, I want to look the part and be taken seriously,” she says. “My emerald green blazer or Reiss dress does this, but also makes sure my personality is there, as it is less boring than black. The colour makes me feel empowered and feminine, my pieces look more expensive and I can wear them all year round.”
Designer Mary Katrantzou goes so far as to call green the best investment of the season. “Whilst black is seen as timeless, it is the rich jewel colour of green that adds extra depth into a woman’s wardrobe,” she says.
“Green immediately sends signals of luxury, wealth and a sense of prestige,” says Marcel Knobil, brand consultant and founder of products and experiences website VeryFirstTo. “It’s no accident that Rolex, Harrods and Lotus are also associated with the colour, as it entered the vernacular as the colour of money.”
Julie-Ann Morrison, managing director of Bulgari UK, attributes the shade’s appeal to its rareness: “There is nothing similar to the colour of emerald, so this, together with the gem’s scarcity, creates the pleasure of investing in something rare and unique, like art.” Even if it is only a dress.
‘Emerald’ by Jonathan Self, Joanna Hardy and Franca Sozzani is published by Thames & Hudson (£75)