Viva Magenta! A Stroll Through The History & Meaning of An Extraordinary Color

Viva Magenta! A Stroll Through The History & Meaning of An Extraordinary Color

Viva Magenta has been named the Pantone Color Institute’s 2023 Color of the Year while being fittingly proclaimed "an unconventional shade for an unconventional time." The vibrant magenta color offers a very deliberate and welcomed burst of energy and optimism after years in the shadow of COVID.

Let’s unpack what’s behind Pantone’s choice, including magenta's fascinating history and symbolism, color pairings - and... does it even really exist as a color?

As far as menswear goes, it sure does - stunningly evidenced by the magenta ties, bow ties, and other accessory offerings in the R. Hanauer collection

The Colorful History of Magenta

In the early 1800s, French chemist François-Emmanuel Verguin patented a chemical formula derived from coal tar that yielded a magnificent red-purple color. It was fantastic; unlike anything that had been seen before.

Initially, the color was called "fuchsine" - both in honor of Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566), a German doctor and botanist, and after the plant “fuchsia” of similar color which, consequently, was also named in honor of Fuchs.

 A magenta fuchsia flower

A half century later, fuchsine was the celebratory color selected to represent the French-Sardinian victory over the Austrians in the short but highly significant Battle of Magenta in Italy. Thus, the color was known from then on as magenta!

With it being chemically derived rather than harvested from nature, the magenta color was prized for its cost-effective, hyper-vibrant punch to fabrics and pigments. It has played a significant role in art and culture since its discovery and has been associated with a number of cultural movements and artistic styles.

Case in point, magenta was a popular color in the art nouveau movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it has also been associated with the psychedelic art movement of the 1960s.

Magenta's Meaning & Symbolism

Given its history and practical application, it’s no wonder that magenta symbolism is strong. Neither considered warm nor cool, it has come to represent balance, harmony, and is often used in the context of universal love. 

In a different interpretation of the magenta color’s neither/nor status, it also signifies rebelliousness, audacity, and wit. It’s all about empowerment – inviting experimentation, encouraging self-expression, invoking strength, galvanizing the spirit, and inspiring bravery. 

Woman with magenta hair, symbolizing power and love

In the words of Laurie Pressman, Vice President at the Pantone Color Institute, “magenta is assertive but not aggressive … one of the strongest and brightest [colors] the world has known.”

Does Magenta Exist?

Some argue that magenta doesn’t exist – and they’re not wrong! There is no magenta wavelength on the color spectrum. Let us explain.

Visible color spectrum scale where magenta doesn't exist

In solid form, magenta presents as solid green crystals. It’s only when it’s dissolved in water that it becomes the magenta color we all know.

So, in reality, the magenta color exists between blue and red. Which our brains just can’t process, so we manifest magenta. That’s the science anyway… but we’ll stick to the menswear point of view where magenta does exist!  

Magenta Color Pairings

So, what colors look best with magenta? It sings alongside most any green, and looks great with numerous other colors, including: 

  • Emerald, pistachio, chartreuse, kelly green, mint, sage 
  • Lemon, ochre, mustard, tangerine, terracotta, peach
  • Navy, turquoise, teal, cyan, sky blue
  • Plum, eggplant, lilac, hot pink
  • Black, charcoal, gray
  • Chocolate brown, cinnamon
  • Neutrals, white, cream
  • Gold, brass, copper


Bow Tie with subtle pops of magenta and complimenting colors


Subtle pops of magenta are nestled among some of its favorite colors in this Autumn Leaves Liberty London Bow Tie.

The 50 Shades of Magenta in Menswear

Considering Viva Magenta as a color swatch, it’s fair to say that this shade leans on the burgundy side of things.

Taken with some added richness and luxe, we delight in sharing our classic burgundy magenta bow tie and cummerbund set – pieces that can be worn across the social calendar.


Also popular in this color family is our burgundy magenta tie with handsome navy stripes, and our burgundy magenta suspenders
Magenta Burgundy Tie and Suspenders

For those convinced that magenta is less red and more pink or purple, we present our Magenta Purple Medallion Windowpane Pocket Square – complete with many of the colors mentioned above, including plum, cyan, navy, ochre, and cream.  

Magenta Purple Medallion Pocket Square

And if you would prefer a happy-go-lucky, Springy fuchsia bow tie, a not-too-hot pink bow tie, or a dark pink bow tie, we have those too.  

3 magenta bow ties

How will you interpret the color magenta this year? Share your look on social with us – we’re on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. And if you strut your #RHanauer fine accessories online, tag us! Happy New Year, and Viva Magenta!

See also, Pantone 2022 Color of the Year article: Periwinkle: What’s In A Color