Those of us who read here have had the experience of saying the word Season pertaining to appearance and hearing, “Season?? That’s over, isn’t it?”
Of course, we know that Season is no more over than looking good or behaving well are over. What might be out of date is the database that person is working from.
Those of us with enough years under our belt have also heard, “Season?? What, like the time of year??” from a young, utterly blank face.
My reply often includes the statement, “It’s not what it used to be.”
Recently, a clever friend asked, “How did it used to be?”
Well, now that you ask…
Used to be, you’d be told a Season, maybe with drapes or maybe not, might take 20 minutes or 2 hours, maybe some makeup applied, and given a swatch book. Away you went to work out how to use it, and best of luck to you.
There is no industry or discipline on Earth that believes or practices what it did 10 years ago, let alone 30. Let alone 2, because it amazes me how much keeps changing. People bring their ideas and innovations every day. That’s a beautiful thing.
I asked my colleague, fellow trainer, and co-drape creator, Terry Wildfong in Michigan for some background.
- When did you begin doing colour analysis?
1983 is when I began learning. In 1993, I began doing it for business.
A friend of mine who purchased the Color Me Beautiful book by Carole Jackson introduced me to color analysis and then had our colors done by CMB. I was so intrigued that I purchased the swatches for the other three seasons to compare them. In 1994, I studied through Color Me a Season by Bernice Kentner and began seeing clients.
Back in the four seasons, it was easier and simpler to do a PCA. I had only 8 drapes for each season and only four places they could go. If the client wasn’t a True (as we now call it and were relatively easy to determine), I had to put the client in the best season; namely, a color that didn’t yellow them too much or gray them too much.
I had a Summer who couldn’t wear the pinks, browns, and many other colors of that season, but I placed her in Summer because it was the best fit. I now understand she is a Soft Summer.
- Why did you train with Kathryn (Kalisz, Founder of Sci\ART)? That was in 2005, right? What convinced you?
After I found Kathryn’s website in 2004, I called her to discuss her system. We visited briefly, and I ordered her book. By reading Understanding Your Color, my eyes were opened to a whole new world. Not only learning about neutral seasons, but also the “science” of it all. None of the color systems I was familiar with explained how and why an analysis works…through science and human vision.
The science and knowledge of the neutral seasons made so much sense that I purchased all the drapes and equipment to begin again that same year.
I saw the great results and believed so much in the system that during my second visit with Kathryn when she mentioned she was looking for trainers, I was the first to jump in line in 2006. I couldn’t believe there could be another color system that was so right, so complete, so systematic, and so sensible. I still believe that to this day.
- How did you find the transition from 4 to 12 Seasons?
Not as easy as I would have thought with nearly 10 years of draping experience. In the prior systems, I had to place clients in one of four seasons. In order to do this, you needed to “clear the complexion.” What that meant at the time was if a client turned sallow yellow or red in one set of drapes, meaning the drapes were too warm, they were either Winter or Summer, depending on which set of those drapes were best. The warm seasons were overpowering for many clients because they were too warm, but warmer clients looked ghostly in the cool drapes, so one of the warm seasons they became.
I thought I could just purchase the drapes and everything would fall into place. Problem was…I really had no idea how to “see” the neutrals. I didn’t know what I was looking for. So I flew to see Kathryn in Connecticut twice in the Spring of 2005 for help.
- Are there additions or developments that you hope to see?
I would love to have professional cosmetologists get involved, either as analysts or consultants. Currently, Cosmetology and PCA don’t speak the same language. Getting the right hair color can be crucial to complete a client’s seasonal look.
I would call where we are now as being “Beyond Sci\ART,” meaning that Kathryn gave us the neutrals, the science, and the method that is the most innovative system to date. We would not change the basis of her method. As with all ideas, products, other knowledge, eventually there are areas to make improvements. I think Kathryn may have made some of the changes we did, had she been with us longer.
The system and method is still as Kathryn taught using all the steps and drapes. We’ve made two great changes so far. One was adding more drapes to the 12 Test sets, from three to six, for more in-depth comparisons. Another was moving from 12 to 16 Red Test drapes. By having all eight neutral seasons represented in the Red Test, it gives us more opportunity to fine-tune heat level.
The cost of training and materials has increased. When PCA was less expensive, many people thought it would be fun to be an analyst. Many people have trained over the years, but very few are still in business today. I believe that due to the higher cost of education and the dedication it takes for such rigorous training and client satisfaction, the students we are now training are more serious than ever before, seeing it as a business, not just a hobby. The curriculum we now teach is significantly more substantial and relevant than it’s ever been. I believe this is attracting more serious, competent students.
- What has changed for our clients?
In color analysis of the past, and even with Sci\ART, the client’s season was found, they were given a cosmetic makeover, and were handed their color fan. There wasn’t any talk of how to use it. “Here are the colors, go find how you wish to use them,” was pretty much all that was given. That was it. You were on your own.
In every system, there are more colors for each season than are on the color fans, but no one talked about how to find them. Kathryn said to see what harmonizes, but nothing specific of what that meant. Over some years, I developed a way to find those colors. I didn’t really realize it at the time though. “Harmonizing” the color fan is the best way to do this. Our students are taught how to do this so they can, in turn, teach their clients.
Many of our analysts now give clients documents about their season, their draping, and links to various on-line sources, even putting together client-specific Pinterest boards and Polyvore. There are cosmetic lists that can be shared. Some analysts even put together specific lists for their clients. Often, analysts have different levels of aftercare to keep in touch with the client to make sure they are happy and comfortable in their season.
The client receives so much more information and attention than ever, but they still must actively learn how to wear their palette.
Comparing Sci\ART and 12 Blueprints Drapes
I hear noises about the 12 Blueprints drapes being somehow inferior to Sci\ART’s. I can only speak of my own drape sets. For those, it’s the other way round.
And still, the Sci\ART drapes represented the best system for colour analysis that existed. My car is different than 5 years ago. Computers coming off the line are different the one I bought 6 months ago. If the industry is alive, learning, and growing, it is changing.
We are often asked the differences between the two products. If people are forced to guess, they might come up with the wrong answer. Let me explain the differences.
Let me also emphasize that done correctly with Sci/ART or 12 Blueprints drapes, the analysis will result in the same Season in 19 people out of 20. Like when your computer’s operating system upgrades, right? 19 files out of 20 are unchanged. That last one is better too, once you get past the irritation and use it for a while.
I would have no problem going back to my original Sci\ART drapes. I still teach with the original Red Test colours for the first draping model or two. Every analyst must learn her own drapes. Which are cooler in their position? Which are more saturated in that Season? Which are similar to another distant Season? Thinking that every set will hit the dead center of every dimension of every Season is unrealistic. Colour is a fluid entity.
In my original drape sets, purchased in May 2009, 2 or 3 colours were duplicated between Seasons over the approx. 80 testing drapes, and a few more, maybe 6, among the 180 Luxury drapes. Why would drapes have been placed in Seasons that seemed to have different colour dimensions?
When Terry and I began creating drapes, we examined these colours carefully to understand Kathryn’s reason for using the same colour in various places. I absolutely do not believe that it was any sort of accident. Her choice was intentional, coming from knowledge that I did not have. Some colours seemed to harmonize partially with the Season they were in, and partially elsewhere. Terry and I discussed this at length.
Terry had seen this years before with her own drape sets and once asked Kathryn about it. From Terry,
Kathryn saw colors as warm, cool, and neutral. She didn’t discuss warm neutrals and cool neutrals, per se; but the seasonal palettes were created that way. To put a somewhat dark, blue drape in both Dark Winter and Soft Summer, she would explain that they are both neutrals, somewhat muted by Autumn, and in the darker value range of Soft Summer and medium-dark value range of Dark Winter. So it could work for either season. If a cranberry color was found both in Dark Autumn and Dark Winter sets, the explanation was that both seasons are Dark and Neutral. This may have been her way of showing the ranges within the seasons..to help understand that some people who are Soft Summer can wear their colors darker than other SSu people, etc.
Without Kathryn to ask, and without her magnificent instinct and knowledge, we had to be more by the book when creating our own colour collections. Experience being a great teacher, our drapes do and will continue to improve. The idea of laying the entire book on the fabric was Terry’s invention, one that has been literally revolutionary for the way in which our trainers, analysts, and clients work with their palettes.
In the original sets, as Terry has mentioned, each of the 12 Seasons was represented with three drapes per Season, sometimes the same colour three ways in one Season, and almost never the same colours between Seasons. Today, we have six repeating colour families represented in all 12 Seasons. Until you’ve done the shopping, you have no sense of how difficult it is to find colours in fabric that are 100% exclusive to Season. Don’t misunderstand; we wouldn’t trade the experience. Our skill as colour analysts has increased by creating drapes in ways that we could not have imagined. Every time any of us sees colour in a new way, we learn.
The 12 Blueprints drapes harmonize with Kathryn’s original palettes as well as the True Colour Australia palettes, created by Amelia Butler, the accuracy of which we respect. Maintaining the highest precision as the span of the drapes increases, and staying true to Kathryn’s system because it is so effective, are our primary concern. In this, I am sure that Amelia would agree.
The testing instrument is now calibrated. We can prove what we believe. We can reproduce results. Science is just asking for sound proof for an idea. We have a test for which everyone who runs the test gets the same answer with some practice. This has always been true between the Sci\ART, TCA, and 12 Blueprints methods. Terry and I did not alter the draping system. It worked fine the way it was. We clarified the distinctions between Seasons.
Redefining the business model
We continue to move away from stereotypic appearances when the client walks in the door. Stereotypes, like photographs, have a place, which we now understand and accommodate. Eye and hair colour are emphasized less than years ago. I can analyze you just as well with your eyes closed and hair covered, maybe even better.
Terry pointed out that the power of social media to for the analyst to educate and support clients post-PCA has been transformative. Clients have lists of cosmetics with which to go shopping. The resource store is almost exhaustive. To alleviate that, we now have our own 12 Season-customized line of cosmetics. The entire community can share with one another every day. The feeling has been one of being on a great ride together, pulling one another along, celebrating the joys, being amazed when new truths come to light, recognizing that knowledge gives choice and freedom, and picking our neighbour up if need be.
It brings me such delight to meet women who have become colour analysts themselves, enthusiastic business owners who love talking shop. In every age group from their 20s to their 70s, women have become their own boss while doing what they care about. They don’t punch a clock or go out on snow days. They have access to a system that is proven to work. The science is so good that I can tell you what makeup to buy and your best hair colour from your results. Empowerment at this level thrills me because, though I hope it never comes to this, women might just save the world. We save our families every day and we are saving this life-changing profession.
Those folks who dismiss Seasons as antiquated and cough dramatically when they hear the current price of the service are forgetting something that I learned as a veterinarian. From whichever hospital you picked up your dog, you did not know what the animal had experienced from the beginning to the end of its stay, for a neuter, or even a grooming. Clients could not compare services between hospitals, though they tried hard to do so, because they did not know what took place between “Your pet’s name?” and “Bye, Furbie!”
Photo Credit: Sonja Mason.