Score one for red, the color, thanks to Taylor, Travis and the red vs. red Super Bowl

Feb 7, 2024, 6:37 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Ever-present on the lips of Taylor Swift and the uniforms of both Super Bowl teams. In streetwear and along the Gucci runway. Amid the sea of Valentine’s Day goods and in bright, dopamine home decor.

The color red has gone boom as loud as TNT.

Not that TNT. We’re talking TNT as in Taylor and Trav. The phenom that is Taylor Swift at boyfriend Travis Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs games was a red-hued wonder of a lead-up to Super Bowl LVIII. Media feast barely covers it.

The Chiefs and their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers, sport red during the regular season, just as they did ahead of their 2020 Super Bowl matchup. But this time around, it’s the Tay factor that’s been a score for classic red and other hues in its family.

Power, passion, seduction. Luxurious and royal. Red is one of those colors that’s both aspirational and proletarian at the same time. It can also symbolize anger or danger.

It’s a color Kelce’s paramour is intimately familiar with. We’ve got Swift’s albums “Red” and “Red (Taylor’s Version),” of course, and her weekslong game-day Chiefs gear, and we’ve always had her signature and remarkably immovable red lip color. Which lip brands she wears she usually keeps to herself, but we’re looking at you Pat McGrath Labs.


That aside, color experts consider football a perfect place for red.

“Red in sport, no surprise. It’s speed, it’s energy, it’s confidence building, it’s power. So who wouldn’t want that, especially if you’re playing in the Super Bowl?” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute, a consulting service that keeps a sharp eye on trends.

But red is so much more, and has been since the dawn of red-blooded humankind and their big brains.

Because of its sharpness, our eyes pick up on red more quickly than they do other colors, said Stuart Semple, a British artist who creates and sells his own line of affordable paint. “We’re hardwired to look out for danger in our environment. At the moment, we’re seeing red just about everywhere.”


Klarna, the Swedish buy now, pay later service, clocked a 254% increase in September over the same month the year before in red lipstick purchases. Red heels enjoyed an 86% boost in the same period, along with red blouses (a 161% rise) and red dresses (a 71% hike), said Erin Jaeger, head of the company for North America.

“Red has always been an `it’ color and a classic statement look, but it’s had a resurgence on runways and in mainstream culture over the past few months. What really makes red a go-to color is its versatility. You can wear red accessories to add color to a more neutral look or throw on a red lip or red nail polish. Right now, people are turning to red as a winter statement color, worn both casually or in a more dressed-up look,” she said.


The 49ers have some skin in the red fashion game, too, in running back Christian McCaffrey’s fiancee, Olivia Culpo, and in Kristin Juszczyk, fullback Justin Juszczyk’s wife.

Kristin, a designer, landed an NFL licensing deal to use league logos on apparel after creating a custom Chiefs puffer for Swift.

“Ahead of the red vs. red Super Bowl matchup, my eyes are going to be on the fashion we see from the players’ walk-in looks, fans and WAGs,” Jaeger said, using sports speak for wives and girlfriends. “I’m expecting some really fun red-centric looks with hints of black and white.”


Red made a splash on Paris runways, and Vogue declared it the color of 2023 in street style. In Milan, Gucci’s new creative director, Sabato De Sarno, debuted his vision for the house in September, introducing Gucci Rosso, a rich shade of oxblood that teeters on burgundy.

Another of red’s attributes is that some people have convinced themselves they can’t wear it.

“Historically, a lot of people have stayed away from red, particularly redheads and others who feel like it’s not their color. I truly think anyone can wear it. It’s just a matter of finding the right hue for you,” Jaeger said.

Bianca Betancourt, the digital culture editor at Harper’s Bazaar, sees a lot less divisiveness over red these days.

“Red has always been credited as a power color and not meant for the sartorially shy, which is why seeing it as a leading trend is so fascinating. The answer to what women want to wear right now is clear: They simply just want to be seen. Wearing red accomplishes that,” she said.


The color is among the oldest natural pigments. Red ochre, an iron oxide, dates to prehistoric times and drawings on cave walls. Red has been used to adorn the body in many cultures, including the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Roman generals and during the Renaissance. It is the symbolic color of communism and socialism. In China, India and other Asian countries, red expresses happiness and good fortune.

Semple, who went to war with fellow artist Anish Kapoor over the latter’s exclusive rights to the world’s blackest of blacks, made his first red when he was 17. It’s called Raygun.

“I made it in my garden shed with a bag of cadmium red and some linseed oil. It’s probably really toxic. I shouldn’t have done it. It still uses cadmium to this day, which is why it carries such a strong warning when artists use it. But honestly, I can’t find a better pigment,” he said.

Geothe, the great German writer, had his own take on red, according to Michel Pastoureau’s book “Red: The History of a Color.”

“A bull becomes furious only if he is presented with a red cloth; a philosopher, on the other hand, goes into a rage as soon as the color is mentioned.”


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Score one for red, the color, thanks to Taylor, Travis and the red vs. red Super Bowl