Meet Leatrice Eiseman: The Woman Who Chooses Pantone’s Color of the Year

Leatrice Eiseman has been at the helm of Pantone’s famous color-predicting tradition for 25 years.

As Miranda Priestley reminded us in The Devil Wears Prada (2006), the colors we wear and decorate with are anything but random. Color trends—think Millennial pink—are powerful, and companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to predict which colors are most likely to draw consumers in. But when it comes to color, no one has a bigger brand than Pantone. That’s thanks in large part to one woman: Leatrice “Lee” Eiseman.

Eiseman has been called “the international color guru,” and for good reason. She has written 10 books on the subject, is the executive director at the Pantone Color Institute, and founded and directs the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training. Color is Eiseman’s whole world. It has been since she was young, with her mother—fondly described as “an absolute demon with a paintbrush”—repainting their entire house, including the piano, a new color every spring. Eiseman has named thousands of new colors for Pantone, making up about 20 percent of their collection, as well as worked with luxury brands to develop iconic colors like Tiffany Blue, Hermès Orange, and Louboutin Red.

So, naturally, Pantone’s CEO asked Eiseman to pick the company’s very first color of the year back in 1999. It was a difficult decision. The color would represent not only the year 2000 but the new millennium itself. Ultimately, Eiseman chose a color rooted in hope: Cerulean Blue.

“No matter where you live, everyone looks forward to seeing a beautiful blue sky,” Eiseman said of the color choice. The hue was a huge hit, making Pantone a household name and prompting them to revisit the tradition every year since. 

Cerulean blue.
Cerulean blue. / Pantone

Nowadays, Eiseman still has the final say on Pantone’s choice for color of the year—but it’s an arduous, research-backed, and collaborative decision-making process. The Pantone Color Institute’s global team of experts conducts color psychology research and discusses potential options year-round. Pantone Color Institute vice president Laurie Pressman likes to call them “color anthropologists” because they “connect all that is taking place in the world and translate it into the language of color.” In fact, Pantone prides itself on choosing a color that embodies the global current moment, rather than any country or region-specific trend. Sometimes, like with 2022’s Very Peri, doing so can even require creating a new color.

As for Peach Fuzz—2024’s color of the year—it’s a light orange shade meant to convey nurturing, closeness, and connection. Eiseman describes it as “a warm and cozy shade that highlights our desire for togetherness and the feeling of sanctuary this creates … Subtly sensual, it is a heartfelt peach hue that brings a feeling of tenderness and communicates a message of caring and sharing, community and collaboration.” 

Peach Fuzz is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2024
Peach Fuzz is Pantone's Color of the Year for 2024 / Pantone

Pressman connects this sentiment with our current times: “With this year’s Pantone Color of the Year 2024, we see an increased focus on community and people across the world, reframing how they want to live and evaluating what is important—that being the comfort of being close to those we love.”

Echoing the upbeat outlook of Cerulean Blue, this optimistic view of 2024 sees human connection as an increasingly important driving force in our world. Even the name “Peach Fuzz” conveys the comforting feeling Pantone thinks will represent the year. So next time you’re feeling warm and fuzzy, look around—you might just have spotted a certain charming peach hue making its mark.