FOTD: Marsala Monday

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday (Wednesday, in some time zones), but I wore this makeup yesterday. Deal with it.

Last week, Pantone revealed its color of the year for 2015: Marsala, a soft plummy brown. Pantone’s color of the year is supposed to predict trends in fashion, makeup, and interior design, though these days it seems more cause than prediction, given how quickly beauty brands jump on the Pantone bandwagon every year. I’m anticipating a host of “how to wear Marsala for spring” articles come February: let’s be honest, it’s a decidedly A/W color. But the weather is A/W as we speak (more W than A this wet, gusty evening), so I’m all for it.

Marsala already has its detractors. Tanya Basu of the Atlantic argues that the color evokes “rust, the grimy, gag-inducing type that lines corners or frat boy dormitory-style bathrooms,” or “the ’70s-era carpets that lined offices and industrial spaces, created to disguise wear-and-tear from foot traffic and errant crumbs from desk lunches.” Personally, I rather like Marsala. It’s a nice break from the saturated brights that Pantone has given us for the last few years, and it’s only the second brown-inflected color of the year since Pantone started the tradition in 2000. You can see the earlier colors here; I find it strange that three of the 16 shades have been variations on turquoise, while 2004’s and 2012’s oranges are almost identical. In fact, Marsala is my third-favorite of the 16, behind 2001’s Fuchsia Rose and 2007’s Chili Pepper. (I have a soft spot for Radiant Orchid, too.)

Both friends and enemies of Marsala have mentioned its culinary overtones. Pantone named the shade after a Sicilian fortified wine often used for cooking, which prompted the Cut’s Kathleen Hou to describe it as “a color that makes you want to go to Olive Garden.” I think that’s awfully harsh, especially since the photo accompanying Hou’s article features meat in an orangey sauce. Marsala is a cool-leaning purplish brown, not an orange-brown: that’s what makes it interesting. Instead of food, it makes me think of the rich, glowing, muted browns of Baroque art. You can spot plum-brown backdrops and draperies in innumerable 17th-century paintings, especially portraits.

Elisabeth of France, by Peter Paul Rubens, 1628. Did you know that Rubens married his 16-year-old niece when he was 53? Now you know. Yeah, I wish I could unlearn that, too:

George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol, by Anthony van Dyck, c. 1638-9:
Dice-Players, Georges de La Tour, c. 1651:
De La Tour’s chiaroscuro paintings influenced my favorite film of all time, Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982):
I don’t own a lot of Marsala-hued makeup, but I do happen to have eye, lip, and cheek products in the shade. Clockwise from top left: theBalm Sexy (from the Nude ‘tude Palette), Maybelline Color Tattoo in Pomegranate Punk, Sleek blush in Flushed, Revlon Lip Butter in Red Velvet, Revlon Lacquer Balm in Coy.

Now that my lips are feeling better than they did last month, I’ve been wearing Coy quite often. If you’d told me a year ago that a shimmery brown would be one of my most-worn lipsticks this fall, I wouldn’t have believed you, but look at me now!

Yesterday I put together a Marsala-inspired face using a couple of the products above.

On my eyes, NYX Jumbo Pencil in Iced Mocha on the inner two-thirds of the mobile lid and the plum side of NARS Habanera on the outer two-thirds and the lower lashline. Despite my lack of enthusiasm about Iced Mocha when I first tried it, I’ve been wearing it a lot in the last few weeks. It’s a great workhorse color for autumn, a toned-down version of Maybelline’s Bad to the Bronze, and it pairs perfectly with plums and reds. On cheeks, Sleek Flushed; on lips, Revlon Coy, my Marsala-est lipstick. I forgot mascara, which was just as well: it was so cold yesterday that my eyes watered whenever I stepped outside.

Speaking (vaguely) of culinary endeavors, I made biscotti a few days ago, using this recipe. This was my third or fourth time making the recipe, and the cookies turned out beautifully. Since I don’t have an electric mixer, I ended up kneading the extremely thick dough by hand–this whisk proved ineffective, if photogenic.

I added chocolate chips, dried cherries, and toasted sliced almonds…

…and look, now I can save money and bring my own biscotti to the coffee shop in the morning! Yeah, I’m shameless.

…anyway. What are your thoughts on Pantone’s new color of the year?

18 thoughts on “FOTD: Marsala Monday

  1. I really enjoyed this post, especially the art references! I guess I need to watch The Draughtsman's Contract then 😀 I'm kinda confused on the whole Marsala thing as I've seen people describe everywhere from rusty brown to cool burgundy. What is it then?! Browny wine shade? If so, I'm cool with that, but I'm not going to rush out to buy everything Marsala-colored right now (or at any time, to be honest).


  2. Yay for art! 🙂 I love that that's what you get from the color, and now that you pointed it out, it really evokes that kind of imagery in my head—which means that I am in, like, love with the color—but I think they really shot themselves in the foot with the name. I can't help but think of Persian cuisine.Anyway, love the look! can't wait to come up with my own 😀


  3. Everyone needs to watch The Draughtsman's Contract! I mean, it appeals to me as a 17th-century nerd, but it's so aesthetically rich that I think it would appeal to anyone who likes artsy movies with a lot of atmosphere (if not a lot of plot). And it's true, people don't seem to have settled on a common definition of Marsala. I admit I took some liberties myself in this post: I was looking for colors that reminded me of Marsala, not colors that mimicked it exactly.I've always found the frenzy over the Pantone colors somewhat odd. Like, why should I buy a bunch of orange or radiant orchid makeup because some company in New Jersey tells me it's the color of the year? That said, if I happen to like the color already, I'll allow myself to feel like a trendsetter. 😀


  4. Yay for art indeed! 🙂 If MAKE ever comes out with a Baroque-inspired palette, I won't be able to resist. I agree that the name of the color could be a lot better. I actually keep thinking of it as \”Madeira\” instead of \”Marsala,\” for some reason. And I hope you do a Marsala post, because your art references will no doubt be more interesting and unexpected than mine! I never even took an art-history class in college, which I now regret…


  5. First thought that came to mind: Kylie Jenner lips (if she were my skin tone.)This color is exactly MAC Viva Glam 3. It's a nice color and suits me well as a lipstick. But I'm not sure if I'd want to incorporate more of the color everywhere else since I've never really done that in that in the past with all the other Pantone colors.


  6. Can I point out that Marsala is an exciting prospect on the drugstore mascara front for redheads, auburns, and blondes? We used to be able to get auburn mascara from Max Factor, but after they pulled out of the U.S., nothing. Almay even stopped selling raisin. (Almay prune is a little off in color and has a too-wide tube opening that results in gloppy applications.) I am having little fantasies of drugstore mascara stockpiling missions in 2015.


  7. I just looked up Viva Glam 3, and you're right! I wonder if it will become more popular this year. I wasn't terribly surprised to see that Pantone chose a brown shade, since we've been hearing ad nauseam that the '90s are back…


  8. Excellent news! I'm boring and have never tried non-black mascara, but if a drugstore brand came out with a raisin-colored one, I might be tempted. It seems like colored mascara has become more mainstream in the last couple of years, anyway.


  9. I still have a shameful backlog of comments to make on your posts, but I do want you to know that I read and treasure every one as though it were a shiny new dagger of dwarven make. 😀 I have a moment free to comment on this one, so you'll have to pardon my sporadicism. Sporadicty. Sporadiciousness. Something.Anyway. First off, let's just get the nice things out: you look absolutely beautiful in your pictures! Marsala is a good colour for you STOP MAKING ME WANT TO GET COY ALREADY. I love you as usual for putting all the spiffy art up (makes my thesis-wizened heart warm over a little as I remember why I started the whole thing in the first place), and pointing out the advantages of marsala as a shade. Also taking your own delicious biscotti to cafes. #studentlife #gradcoreOnto Marsala…I've noticed quite a lot of backlash toward Marsala as the PCOTY myself (in various corners of the internet, some more prominent than others), and I have to say, I think some of it needs to back down a bit. Of course, people are entitled to hold their own opinions, and express them freely, but to me, some of it smacks of snark for snark's sake. Like they just want to be the first to say something clever about the colour, and the internet effect takes hold and bile comes out. Now we just have to wait for the second wave of hipsters claiming that they liked it before it was the PCOTY. ;-)Much as I personally love bold colours (particularly if it prompts makeup companies to make unconventionally coloured lipsticks), sometimes it's nice when they champion a colour that's eminently wearable. Especially when it comes to makeup. Is it a little browner than I'd probably gravitate toward? Maybe. Is it going to suit nearly everyone (in varying intensity) with minimal effort and fit perfectly with the little '90s resurgence that we're having at the moment? Almost certainly! And if we're going back to the '90s, I'd much rather have a little more brown in my lipsticks than be assaulted with more of those thick-strapped white platform sandals ;-)I dunno. I think Marsala is a much more versatile and sympathetic shade than radiant orchid or the teal, even if those are a little more exciting. Like you, I've never really specifically bought anything *because* of the PCOTY though (not least because it doesn't really 'happen' here in NZ!) 😀


  10. I'll admit I wasn't exactly excited to see the colour but it's grown on me. Rather than something fanciful (like Radiant Orchid), it's a colour you'll find around you if you look carefully. Makeup wise, it's also so easy to recreate. It's the shade I get when I use Clinique Black Honey.


  11. While you are not technically of the Ginger-Chestnut Hair and Iris Skin tribe, I could see you liking our mascara. It's not like what is often connoted with colored mascara. Instead, it's a very soft brown. In mascara form, it's a color that seems to want to half-recline in shadows. With your style, I could see you using it for a natural, slightly drowsy Gibson girl with hints of upcoming smudgy-dreamy sleep (or if it's an Edwardian cyborg, upcoming update-and-shut-down mode, maybe?).


  12. Bwahahaha, I'll make you get Coy sooner or later. Though that giant sampler from Sephora will give you more than enough lip stuff to play with for some time (totally jealous, btw). I agree that one of the great things about Marsala is its versatility across multiple skintones. Radiant Orchid was pretty, but sort of gaudy; it's nice to have a more understated color of the year. (I say, as if this actually Matters to me. It doesn't. Yet somehow I have lots of thoughts about it.)Oh god, those platform sandals. And the PLATFORM SNEAKERS. I remember a time when you literally could not find a pair of sneakers without platform soles. Give me brown lipstick any day.


  13. Ah yes, Black Honey! A classic for good reason. And Clinique just came out with the Black Honey eyeshadow, too. It often feels like the Pantone color is less a prediction of trends than a response to what's already happening.


  14. Marsala and the general brown/wine/plum family are colours that immediately draw my eye when it comes to makeup (clothing, not so much). I need to do a look on this too! There's just something so rich and sumptuous about them — your reference to art is spot on, and something I am trying to educate myself about more, now that I am surrounded by a ridiculous number of museums. This look complements your colouring perfectly!


  15. I was overwhelmed by the number of museums in London–AND THEY WERE ALL FREE, which seemed insane to my American eyes. I got so much beauty inspiration from them! I'm drawn to plum/wine/brownish colors too; I can't wear yellow- or orange-toned browns, but anything that mixes brown and purple is a magnet for me.


  16. Very nice look! I'm looking forward to trying out Marsala because of its more neutral nature. The last few years, the PCOTY has been the sort of colour that demands the spotlight. This is more the kind of thing that can be integrated with other shades. I'm already on the lookout for a lipstick that's a perfect match for the Pantone itself. Makeup quest ahoy!


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