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Prince Now Has His Own Shade of Purple

The Pantone Color Institute has debuted “Love Symbol #2,” a deep purple based on the late star’s custom-made piano

“Love Symbol #2” (Pantone)
smithsonian.com

On Monday, the Pantone Color Institute announced it had added a new color to its rainbow: “Love Symbol #2,” a shade of purple mixed in honor of the late pop-icon Prince, reports Jake Nevins at The Guardian.

According to a press release, Prince’s estate collaborated with Pantone, which forecasts color trends and operates the color matching system used by all sorts of industries, to come up with the new shade. Prince Rogers Nelson, also known by the nickname “The Purple One,” has been associated with the color purple since the release of his Grammy- and Oscar-winning 1984 album and movie, Purple Rain. Prince died at the age of 57 from an accidental fentanyl overdose at his Paisley Park home and recording studio near Minneapolis in April, 2016.

“A musical icon known for his artistic brilliance, Love Symbol #2 is emblematic of Prince’s distinctive style. Long associated with the purple family, Love Symbol #2 enables Prince’s unique purple shade to be consistently replicated and maintain the same iconic status as the man himself,” Laurie Pressman, vice-president of the Pantone Color Institute, says in the release.

The new shade of deep purple is named after the symbol the singer used in place of his name between 1993 and 2000. While the unpronounceable symbol seemed like a wacky marketing gimmick, Kristin Hohenadel at Slate reports that the singer changed his name to get back at his label, Warner Bros., which wouldn’t let him out of a contract. The symbol was a headache for the label to market and made it hard to talk about the singer, who journalists began calling “the artist formerly known as Prince.” In 2000, when his contract expired, he went back to the name Prince.

According to Nevins, the actual shade of purple is derived from the pigment of the custom Yamaha piano built for Prince that he planned to play during his 2016 world tour. The AP reports that Prince asked the company to match the purple to a couch he had inside his home. He tweeted out a photo of the piano and then debuted it at a show at Paisley Park just days before his death. The new color will be used by his estate on official products and merchandise.

Prince isn’t the first celebrity to receive a tribute from Pantone. Earlier this year, fashion designer Richard Nicoll, who died of a heart attack at age 39 in 2016, inspired the color Nicoll Blue since he was fond of using a wide range of blues in his designs. Leanne Italie at the Associated Press reports that two individuals have also purchased their own custom Pantone colors. In 2007 Jay Z commissioned a pearlescent blue mixed with platinum dust. It’s official name and formula is confidential, so it is referred to as "Jay-Z Blue." In 2011, Sherry Chris, CEO of a real estate company, bought her own signature shade of eye-popping hot pink.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

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