My dear friend and talented fashion designer Sonia Tay has been hard at work developing Colorant, a luxurious line of naturally-dyed cashmere sweaters and dresses; I’ve been following her adventures from Shanghai to New York and now, I get to share the story behind her beautiful clothing line—and the history of the dyes—with all of you, in this exclusive first look and interview.
Sonia Tay: That colors have shaped and influenced the world in the most astounding ways. Purple was once the most expensive color in the world because it was extracted from a predatory sea mollusk. It took 250,000 of these creatures to produced enough to dye a garment, that Roman Kings could only afford to wear it.
Or that Indigo, not only symbolized American youth through denim jeans, but was once the major export in Mexico next to Silver and Cochineal Red.
The lessons go on and on, and our world is so rich with color history.
Using these same techniques and bringing them back to modern culture can influence the future in positive ways. Besides having numerous health benefits, by enriching your skin with herbal color, natural dyes can inspire the growth of more dye-able plant farms.
PFF: What is the most valuable lesson you learned while developing the line?
ST: Go with the flow. Natural colors are very spontaneous. A safflower grown in the North will never yield the same orange as one from the South. Temperature, climate, even soil effects color intensity which I realized is the beauty of the product.