October 04, 1989 12:00 PM

Henry Ford once told the American people they could have cars in any color they wanted—as long as it was black. Inevitably, people craved livelier shades, and eventually got them: not just canary convertibles but avocado appliances, pastel plates and color TV. By the time the ’80s got rolling, the stage was set for a black-lash. Suddenly ebony was everywhere: sheets, dishes, cars, clothes, clocks, kitchens, pasta (yipes, squid ink!) and every high-tech gadget—the perfect antidote to smile-button yellow and Miami Vice aqua and pink. Reagan, meanwhile, was bringing back black-tie formality. The first baby boomers were turning 40, finally becoming old enough, by ancient fashion gospel, to wear the one color that makes all skin glow. Black was stern, sexy, smart and, like the decade itself, all business. But how long can you fill it to the rim with grim? Black appliances must be dusted daily, black cars waxed weekly. Black clothes need constant pressing to stay threatening. But now there’s a new hue on the horizon. In the ’90s you’ll be able to get any color you want, as long as it’s (hold your breath, we researched this)…brown.

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