Puce isn’t ugly – or even green, for that matter. It’s a scandal, how badly the color has been treated because of our own ignorance
BY NABANITA DUTT
Puce. A nausea-inducing shade of gastric juice green, we think, tempered with pale, jaundiced yellow. A queasy, stomach-turning, indigestible color that’s commonly identified with vomit.
We react to puce, not with our eyes, but with the uncomfortable sensation of our last meal suddenly sitting heavy in our stomachs. No wonder then, that puce holds the dubious distinction of being the world’s Ugliest Color. We’re repulsed by it, and we’re awkward around it because of the way it makes us feel. Poor puce.
No shade must have been treated so disgracefully in the history of color. And all for nothing because puce is not even green. Yes, puce is not green.
It is a rusty, purplish pink. (Hex Color Code # CC8899)The French coined the name `puce’ to describe the color of dried, crusty stains of blood, eyes, guts and brains left by crushed fleas on bed linen.
A world away, you have to admit, from the grossness of puke. And very, very attractive in fashion or a home décor palette.
Bryn Mooney, Bodmin Magazine’s in-house color expert has a lot to say in defense of puce. She points to the fact that the intermediate shade is not burdened by over-saturation. As a result, it is approachable, flexible and suggests luxury when used on walls and textured fabrics like velvet and silk. The element of red in puce differentiates it from traditional purple and communicates the warm coziness of wine. How can it not be suitable in your wardrobe or in your living space?
If you’ve been mad about that odd, in-between shade of purplish-brownish-pink and found it romantic, you now know that you’re actually in love with the color puce. And no shame in that, as you also know – unlike most people in the world – that puce is not vomit green.
SO WHICH IS REALLY THE WORLD’S UGLIEST COLOR?
It’s called Opaque Couché. Australian researchers at GfK Bluemoon spent 3 months studying colors that promote digust and negativity, and after considering a bunch of bad-energy shades like mustard, medium olive and dark grey, they decided it had to be Opaque Couché.
The sludgy, brown color — also known as Pantone 448C – has been described as “sewage-tinted death” by the Brisbane Times. John Iadarola from Think Tank paints an even more vivid picture of the tint when he describes Pantone 448C as “something you get when you pour vomit on top of poop, and then sort of swirl it around”.
The public color shaming of Opaque Couché, however, has not been in vain. Studies have shown that smokers tend to feel repulsed by the sight of it, and you can expect to see more cigarette and tobacco product packaging in Pantone 448C in the near future.