Paloma Blanca

Miami ViceThe nineteen-eighties is a period sometimes referred to as “the decade without style”, or “the decade with no taste”. Even if you didn’t live through it, you can still snigger at the shoulder pads in re-runs of ‘Dallas’ or ‘Dynasty’ or the rolled-up jacket sleeves in ‘Miami Vice’.

And Crockett’s jacket was usually white. Cars were white. Stilettos were white. Abba dressed in white.

I can’t remember exactly when taste and sanity returned, but nobody wants to go back there, not even the fashion industry, notorious for lack of ideas and recycling old styles.

But over the last year or so, I’ve noticed a return of white cars to the roads. New ones, so clearly deliberately chosen by their proud owners. (If you’re buying second-hand, colour is a less important consideration. I’ve never liked mine much — a very pale metallic bronze.)

In some people’s minds then, a white car is not crass, vulgar and tasteless, as everyone agreed after the eighties. Improbable as it seems, they think it’s cool.

It bugged me. I kept asking myself how a proportion of the population could miss the obvious fact that white is the epitome of tasteless colour choice for a car. Who was to blame?

Eventually, I worked it out. It was Jonathan “Jony” Ive.

He designed the first iPods and iPhones. Yes, they were white, but they looked amazing compared to anything else on the market and were beautifully made. They were far more expensive than the competition, but some people like that. The device becomes a status symbol, and the whiteness a kind of trademark. The accessories were white as well. It can’t be a coincidence that Jony Ive began his career designing toilets.

Of course, iPhones and iPods aren’t necessarily white any more. (In 2008, the last, cut-price batch of the iPhone 3 was BLACK.) But it’s too late. The curse of the nineteen-eighties had been forgotten, by some people at least. They buy white cars.


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