ColorTherapy: Butterfield-8 Blue

ColorTherapy: Butterfield-8 Blue

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Maxwell Ryan
Oct 24, 2006

Name: Butterfield-8 Blue
Possible Match: Let It Rain 639 - Benjamin Moore (other possibilities below)

I'd like to introduce yet another feature to Color Therapy: Color Therapy in Film.

A few months ago I wrote a column lamenting the generalized use of indeterminate powder blue, which I called Butterfield-8 Blue. This was a column I wrote in snark, and it raised a few hackles. I decided to revisit both the film and the color to see more specifically what I was remembering and why it caused such a flap.

Let's start with the classic opening scene: Elizabeth Taylor is Gloria, wearing a slip and a mink, padding about her lover's Fifth Avenue apartment after a night of dissolute behavior. The entire apartment is painted light blue, but the color is bigger than I remember it, and not a washed out baby blue but something closer to a classic mid-century turquoise. Still, the color is very cool, and contrasts with the incredible sensuality of Ms. Taylor. When she discovers the envelope full of money and a note that says "Is this enough?" she revolts, writes "no sale" on the mirror in lipstick, and runs out the door with a bottle of scotch. My response exactly.

I'd like to say already I like the color in this opening scene more than I remember it, though if I were going to use it anywhere, I'd like to wink at the way it was used in this film and not take it so seriously or use it so formally. I also thought that this color was used in every scene in the film, but that's not true. It's used as a connecting element throughout, especially in the posh settings of Manhattan nightclubs, and this contrasts the beige paper-bag colors of Eddie Fisher's West Village flat, or Gloria's apartment she shares with her mother. In that sense, Butterfield-8 blue is classy, stylish, rarified, and for Gloria, ultimately unattainable.

I've noticed in flipping through the Color Contest entries here in the last few days that several people have submitted pictures using Butterfield-8 Blue, which indicates that the film's influences have extraordinary range. Here are a few possible color matches: from Ralph Lauren I like Baltic Green VM118, Faded Seafoam VM125, Empire VM126. In the Benjamin Moore lines I'm attracted to Let It Rain 639, Turquoise Mist 695, Seacliff Heights 688, and Covington Blue HC-138. Skoal and good work to whomever named these items. What would you select?

- Mark Chamberlain, interior and decorative painter

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