Every autumn and winter shows a marked contrast in lifestyle from spring and summer. Outdoors the weather is getting steadily colder while indoors the warmth of a fire, real or artificial, is supplemented by a somewhat heavier diet that helps us to keep warm. These thoughts are reflected in the colours that are predicted by Stahl for the autumn/winter season 2004/05. The cool, somewhat neutral shades that cover both country and town contrast with the warmer and darker interior tones.

Autumn means a palette of bronze, gold, henna, olive and verdigris with a look of aged surfaces as leaves fall from the trees and other plants wither as winter approaches. These are the seasons of nutritious food inspiring winter warmth and friendliness. It is hardly surprising that the first group of colours reflecting this inspiration are ‘Wholesome’. They range from beautiful soft greys through the browns and deep tans, to the warmer reds and browns that will give a feeling of warmth to leather.

As the strong cold winds of autumn and winter blow the dead branches off the trees and pile the snow into drifts in the mountains, there is a feeling of ‘Broken’ in the air. Think of the colours of a winter snowstorm and transform this into ideas for leather using mineral neutral tones such as purples, brown and winter blues. Then transform them into metallic effects, the brittleness of nature at this time of the year, and let them follow the movement of light as nature moves in the wind, the rain and the snow and is then transformed by brilliant sunny days just as a flash of light glints on a shiny metallic surface.

In contrast to the outdoor life of summer, winter is a time when thoughts turn to indoor pursuits, perhaps even to do-it-yourself projects. Indoor sports and pursuits are often surrounded by vinyl textures, so the next group, ‘Vinyl’, responds to these ideas. Colours are black, black and more black. If that sounds dull and dreary, the effects that will be put onto leather will be quite the opposite with shine, polish and patent giving a feeling of quality and bringing an unexpected reflection of light to the overall concept. Black can act as a mirror to contrast with matt effects.

During these romantic, darker times of the year, much of nature seems to glow, especially under a moonlit sky, giving rise to the ‘Halo’ colours which will give leather an underlying and understated glamour. These colours centre around silvers and the paler hues to give an iridescent aura of feminine charm and mystery.

Colours in the next group, ‘Bruised’, again reflect an autumnal spectrum. Finishes lend a depth of colour, ageing from bourbon through red and gold to a series of autumn greens, each shade giving a slightly oxidised or metallic look.

Finally, winter is a time for indoors, whether at home or in more public places such as the sports arena or the theatre. Colours are bright and cheerful so the ‘Flame’ group of colours should come as no surprise. Colours for leather are expected to be red, flaming and reflective with great depth and shadow, usually glossy rather than matt but always with interest and depth. Typical shades will be scarlet, cochineal and crimson, sometimes edging towards a golden vermilion.

Visitors to Stahl’s applications laboratories in the world’s leather centres and to Stahl’s stands at the many fashion fairs will see these colours and will see how Stahl’s wet end, dyeing and finishing products can be used to produce the colours and the effects that will go with them, and also they can be varied to suit local tastes and fashion needs.