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PURPLE REIGNS

And now, the Color of the Year for 2005: purple.

Well, some variation thereof, anyway.

A shade called Violet Tulip was named Color of the Year by Michele Bernhardt, the creator of Colorstrology, a system that "infuses elements of astrology and numerology with the spirituality of color."

The color embodies peace, healing, spirituality and tolerance, lifts spirits and bolsters faith, Bernhardt said.

"Violet Tulip is a great and powerful color to wear, meditate and surround ourselves with as we actualize our intentions, pursue our life's purpose, and rekindle our sense of community."

Meanwhile, the Color Marketing Group, an organization of 1,500 color professionals that comes up with palettes for industry, manufactured products and services, includes Thistle Bloom and Soulful Grape among the many hues that will be news this year.

That grape is a "ceremonial purple"; the thistle is a "vintage, retro and antiqued dusky purple" enhanced with metallics and pearlescents.

CMG's color choices "convey a respectful, serious nature, yet touch the soul." Consumers desire "comfort, stability and security, but optimistically yearn for bright and fresh signs of a better world to come," the group said in a news release.

Watch for a color called Late Night Blue as a replacement for black, "denim morphed into the darkest of hues." The color "indicates trust and respect for our heritage, patriotism, the military and their uniforms."

Be on the lookout also for a continuing embrace of technology (metallics, steel, mineral; red, blue, gray) as a friendly fact of everyday life, and a belief that "machine-made is better than man-made." Bring back those sleek locomotives and work-of-art machines of the streamline-art deco period of the 1930s!

Benjamin Moore Paints identifies four color trends, all of them frosted, washed, cleaned and diluted, and mindful of the way color changes as the light changes in the course of the day:

+ Water, the essence of life, which underscores a spiritual aspect: "a forgiving, compassionate element" that acknowledges imperfections, Doty Horn, director of color and design, said in a telephone interview. Think of it as a Botox backlash, rejecting the notion that bodies must be perfect. Water is now a scarce commodity, bottled to assure purity, she pointed out, and even the high-tech hydrogen fuel cells that may provide energy in the future yield a byproduct of water. The colors here: soft, washed, diluted blues and greens.

+ Femininity, "a softening of the hardness that's out there right now" with pinks and reds, "the color of the heart," and lavender (there's that purple!). She points to a return to nurturing, to the TV shows, magazines and retailers that cater to female consumers.

+ Stability, a desire to "feel stable and security in a world that's insecure." Consumers are reaching out "to what they desire, not what is," Horn said. Right after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, "people instantly pulled back" to safe, stable colors. Now, with the economy on an upswing (note the big sales of luxury goods during the holidays), warm terra-cotta variations like Peach Brandy or a bold magenta-purple-brown called El Cajon Clay and calming greens like Trailing Vines will reflect that.

+ Expressionism. That new sense of stability frees and empowers consumers to use hotter, brighter colors: tangerine, teal, fuchsia, bright green, golden yellow _ that look like a fresh take on 1950s retro (though that shade called Firefly looks an awful lot like yesteryear's Harvest Gold).

And look for the return of white. "White went away in the '90s," Horn said. "We went to a sun-baked palette: almond and bisque. What's happening in this decade is that the yellow element is out. The watery blue comes in to cool it off. So white is getting whiter, which we haven't seen in 10 years, and white-on-white is definitely a trend. White will give color more contrast, make it look brighter and cleaner. For consumers, this is probably a fresh new look."

Judy Stark can be reached at (727) 893-8446 or starksptimes.com.

Shades of purple such as this one _ Violet Tulip _ will be popular in 2005, color experts say. Violet "ignites a loving perspective so we can see without prejudice and heal old wounds, hurt and resentments," Colorstrology creator Michele Bernhardt says.

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