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Like all good (just about) millennials, my Instagram algorithm knows me better than anyone else.

Who and what do I spend my scroll time with? Dogs, mainly. Celebs in the ’90s, holiday cabins that are all floor-to-ceiling glass and breathtaking views and eyewatering prices. More dogs.

But over the past few months, something else has crept in: bare faces with swatches of different coloured fabric draped across their chests like rainbow napkins, their features brightening or dulling as the bibs are changed with a flourish by a stylist.

Celebrities in their colour seasons (clockwise from top left): Kim Kardashian, winter; Beyonce, autumn; Taylor Swift, spring; Rihanna, summer. Pics: AP
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Celebrities in their colour seasons (clockwise from top left): Kim Kardashian, winter; Beyonce, autumn; Taylor Swift, spring; Rihanna, summer. Pics: AP

Pictures of celebrities with rainbow borders framing their faces fill my feed, sometimes with before and digitally altered “after” images side-by-side, showing how different our favourite stars might look with, say, a slightly warmer blonde tone to their hair, or in a silver dress rather than gold.

Welcome to the world of colour analysis – the science, the stylists say, behind the clothes that make you look good.

Like Avon parties, shoulder pads and blancmange, knowing your colour season was de rigueur in the 1980s, before the 1990s ushered in a more laidback approach, followed by instructions on What Not To Wear and How To Look Good Naked, focusing on body shape, in the noughties.

But colour styling is back.

Kim Kardashian in 2019. Pic: RW/MediaPunch /IPX
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Kim Kardashian is apparently a winter, which means she looks best in cool tones – and suits silver more than gold. Pic: RW/MediaPunch /IPX


In the past year or so, the trend has exploded on social media thanks to demand from millennials and Gen Zs who have discovered the power of knowing your season – search for #colouranalysis or #coloranalysis and you’ll find around 300,000 posts on Instagram alone, with similar numbers on TikTok.

Colour stylists say that not only is it a fun way to look at fashion, it’s also sustainable and a cost-saver – the idea being that if you know your colours, you’re not going to waste money on items that don’t optimise your looks.

What is colour styling?

Stylist Francesca Cairns says her followers have massively increased due to the rising popularity of colour analysis. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns
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Stylist Francesca Cairns says her followers have massively increased due to the rising popularity of colour analysis. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns

The idea is that every single person’s features can be classified into a set of shades associated with spring, summer, autumn or winter – broken down further into 12 sub-seasons such as “true spring” or “bright winter” – and from this palette you can take guidance on the colours that suit you best, not just for clothing but also for make-up and hair.

Winters look great in jewel tones such as emerald green, or neon brights, while autumns suit the colours you associate with the season – mustard, cinnamon, dark moss green. Springs are warm, bright and clear, summers more soft and subtle. But your season is not just about how you look on the outside, and some might surprise you.

Watching the switching of colour drapes, or scrolling through the digital equivalent, can feel like a magic trick; a glow-up without a hint of highlighter or hair dye. Stylists assure this is #nofilter and there is no digital trickery going on here; the wrong colours will wash you out, but the right colour on the right person could well make your eye bags and wrinkles all but melt away.

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Having watched this content from various colour stylists over the past few months, I have learned a lot about seasons, palettes and contrast, and undertone v overtone, warm v cool, clear v muted. I have learned that you might share the same eye, skin and natural hair colour as someone else and still be in a different season. That your colour season is not about skin colour or even tone.

And that, apparently, despite black being a go-to or a comfort blanket for many, it’s only – brace yourselves – those in the winter palette who truly suit it.

So now, in the interest of journalism, I’m finding out for myself.

Anyone who knows me will know my wardrobe is on the brighter side. I think I’m a spring. I hope I’m a spring. Am I a spring?

Beyonce' accepts the Innovator Award at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, Monday, April 1, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
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Beyonce’s recent platinum look is a shift from the autumn season. Pic: AP/Chris Pizzello

Have I been wearing the ‘wrong’ colours all my life?

I have my colours done by Francesca Cairns, a UK stylist of 10 years who says she has seen her Instagram following grow from about 10,000 to 500,000 across two accounts in the past 12 months or so, all thanks to colour analysis.

“It’s boomed, especially in the last year,” she says. “Gen Z want to learn about what works for them so they can create wardrobes that are sustainable. People are obsessed with it, it’s everywhere.”

Francesca works online, with clients internationally as well as in the UK, so needs photos. No make-up, natural lighting, standing in front of a window. I take about a million selfies before I find a couple that are vaguely passable and send them over, along with older pictures of myself over the years and some information: natural hair colour, (dark blonde/ mousey), eye colour (grey-green, a bit non-descript), how easily I tan (not bad) and my jewellery preference (silver; but, if I’m honest, this could well be a legacy from my frugal youth).

Gemma Peplow spring colours. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns
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Am I a spring? Or maybe autumn (below)? Pics: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns

Gemma Peplow autumn colours. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns

Rather than draping with material in person, she surrounds your face with colour digitally, the style equivalent of Tinder, swiping yes on the shades that work, relegating the ones that don’t, to see a pattern.

It’s mainly about undertone – not skin colour (overtone), she says. The tricky thing? You can’t necessarily see it.

“When I look at someone, I’m putting silver and gold next to them, or very warm versus cool colours,” Francesca says. “I’m seeing which looks best next to their features, which one’s not overpowering them.”

The aim of wearing your best colours is to see your face first, before everything else, she says. The right colour will enhance your features, bring out your eyes. “You don’t want a dress to wear you,” Francesca says. “When you walk into a room, you want people to see your face and your features before your outfit. You want it to all be in harmony rather than overpowering you.”

Her process usually takes 48 hours, but Francesca has my results over to me the next day.

I am, it seems, not a spring.

Gemma Peplow summer colours. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns
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Francesca believes the summer season suits me best – and says winter (below) is too high contrast. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns

Gemma Peplow winter colours. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns
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Gemma Peplow winter colours. Pic: @imageconsultantmaidenhead/ @styledbyfrancescacairns

According to Francesca’s workings, I am a soft summer, just like Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker and Rachel McAdams. I have a neutral undertone which leans cool, she tells me, with muted and soft colouring, subtle rather than high contrast. Baby blue, pine green, lavender, sage and taupe are on the list of recommended clothing colours, while ash brown and cool blonde are suggested for my hair (not too far off, but my highlights are probably on the warmer side).

I do own a fair bit of light blue denim, which is good, but I’m looking at all the bright greens, oranges and pinks in my wardrobe. This isn’t about my favourites, though, it’s about the ones that harmonise with my features best.

“It’s colour science,” Francesca says. “If someone’s got a warm undertone, nine out of 10 times they’re probably going to be in the spring or autumn seasons because they look better with a lot of warm tones most of the time. But if you’re neutral, you can border both the seasons.” As I’m neutral, she says some of the spring colours would work – but winter is too high contrast and cool-toned.

Someone with a high contrast – pale skin, dark hair, bright eyes, for example – can pull off high contrast colours such as cobalt blue and fuchsia pink. “But they might overpower someone who’s got softer features,” she says.

Rachel McAdams arrives at the world premiere of "Top Gun: Maverick" on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at the USS Midway in San Diego. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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In good company: Rachel McAdams is also a soft summer, according to Francesca. Pic: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP


Celebs in – and out – of season

It’s important to note that colour analysts don’t always agree. Some put Margot Robbie as a summer, for example, while others, including Francesca, say she’s a spring. Some say you have to do the analysis in person to be certain, while others say photos taken in the right conditions are enough.

I take an online colour quiz for a second opinion and it puts me as a spring, but this is without photographic evidence; I can’t help but think the result is probably something to do with the questions being mainly about the colours I’m drawn to and how I see myself.

Taylor Swift arrives at The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Benefit Gala, celebrating the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" on Monday, May 2, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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Taylor Swift moved away from her season in 2016. Pic: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Francesca is confident in my summer analysis, but says I can lean into the spring palette. And this isn’t about throwing away an entire wardrobe, but potentially making tweaks.

“Colour analysis isn’t about restriction,” she says. “I’m an autumn. People ask me all the time if I still wear black? Yes, because 90% of my wardrobe before I did this was black. I’ll always wear black, but I’ll make it work for me better by wearing my make-up in my colours, or accessories round my face, wear black lower down or with a lower neckline.

“If you love a colour that’s not in your season it doesn’t mean you can’t wear it, it just means that you wear your colours with it or make it work for you in a different way. And when I post celebrities against different [background] colours, it can be quite subjective.”

Because being groomed and beautiful means stars often look good against all sorts of different shades.

“People might prefer them in a different [colour to their season] and that’s their opinion. But when it comes down to the trained eye and you know what you’re looking for, you see straight away why one palette works better than another.”

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Kim Kardashian (winter), Kate Middleton (summer) and Hailey Bieber (autumn) are celebrities you will usually find wearing their colour palettes, she says.

But wearing colours out of your season can pack a punch – think Taylor Swift‘s platinum white hair and dark lipstick look during the height of the Kim and Kanye feud in 2016, or Beyonce‘s current platinum look for the release of Cowboy Carter. Swift is a spring, apparently, while Beyonce is autumn.

“But I’m always training my eye, even now after years,” says Francesca. “You’ll always find that someone’s colours will always surprise you. And there’s no rule book – it’s all about having fun.”

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Bruce Springsteen cancels shows over ‘vocal issues’

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Bruce Springsteen cancels shows over 'vocal issues'

Bruce Springsteen has cancelled a series of dates due to “vocal issues”, days after performing in what he described as “hellacious” weather in Sunderland.

The US star, 74, postponed shows in Marseille, Prague and Milan over the next fortnight, with his European tour set to resume in Madrid on 12 June.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, he said he was “recuperating comfortably” and he and the E Street Band “look forward to resuming their hugely successful European stadium tour”.

With “further examination” and “consulting”, the statement also said, doctors determined Bruce “should not perform for the next 10 days”.

Springsteen had played at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Wednesday, where he admitted the weather was particularly wet.

As he was honoured at London’s Ivor Novello Awards on Thursday, he said: “We just… came out of the plane in Sunderland last night, (it was) hellacious weather.

Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock

Ivor Novello Awards, Portrait Studio, Grosvenor House, London, UK - 23 May 2024
Bruce Springsteen with his Fellowship of The Ivors Academy and Sir Paul McCartney pose in the Studio at The Ivors with Amazon Music - May 23, 2024 in London United Kingdom. (Photo by Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

23 May 2024
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Sir Paul McCartney presented Bruce Springsteen with the Fellowship of The Ivors Academy. Pic: Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock

“Driving rain storm, the wind blowing, blowing, blowing, and standing… in front of me, in the rain, I realised: these are my people.”

Springsteen also treated the audience to his song Thunder Road, after Sir Paul McCartney presented him with his Ivors Academy fellowship.

New dates for his postponed shows will be announced shortly, according to his Instagram account, and anyone seeking a refund “will be able to obtain it at their original point of purchase”.

Read more:
Paloma Faith, KT Tunstall and more on the threat of AI
Nicki Minaj fans blame venue – not her arrest – for gig cancellation

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He rescheduled dates in August last year in the US after he was taken ill, and cancelled planned concerts in March 2023 over other issues.

His first major tour in six years saw him play a headline gig in London’s Hyde Park in July 2023.

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Nicki Minaj fans blame venue – not her arrest – for last minute gig cancellation

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Nicki Minaj fans blame venue - not her arrest - for last minute gig cancellation

Nicki Minaj fans who queued to see her in Manchester only for her arrest to lead to the concert being cancelled at the last minute have blamed the beleaguered venue for the fiasco.

Ticketholders queued outside the Co-op Live arena from as early as 9am on Saturday and were allowed inside at 7pm.

Minaj, however, had been arrested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on suspicion of possession of “soft drugs” and was not released until 9pm – when the gig was due to start.

Once inside, her fans, also known as Barbz, claim security staff told them she was already in the building. But at 9.40pm promoter Live Nation announced the event was being cancelled.

Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in New York earlier in May. Pic: AP
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Nicki Minaj at the Met Gala in New York earlier in May. Pic: AP

Alvin Christie, 29, from Liverpool, was among those who had camped out since Saturday morning.

He said: “I would say it was very poorly managed. When we arrived… they were actively telling fans that she had arrived and that everyone was going to dance tonight.

“For a lot of people that were asking those questions, that’s obviously [keeping] people’s hopes up. I understand that maybe they wanted to get people into the arena for health and safety risks to stop people being outside.

“But I think most importantly, they maybe could have advised people as soon as they’ve known that the show was postponed and we should be turned away when we’re outside the arena, rather than holding loads of people in the arena.”

Mr Christie said he does not blame Minaj, and says fans wanted her to be “in a good place” for the show.

“Die-hard Nicki fan” Charu, who also travelled from Liverpool for the concert, said the evening was “so ridiculously disappointing”.

“My sister and I had been looking forward to this for months. I’m in the middle of taking my medical school exams and I had been working around this day and was so looking forward to it,” they said.

“People around us said they’d travelled from Ireland and Scotland, paid for hotels for the night in Manchester, which is not cheap.

“So the fact that tickets will be refunded or still valid for another concert doesn’t really put into perspective the time and money that we have all spent on this night.”

PABest A view of the Co-op Live arena in Manchester. The £365 million venue, the biggest indoor arena in the UK, has postponed its opening numerous times after rescheduling performances from Peter Kay, The Black Keys, and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, as well as shows by Olivia Rodrigo scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. Picture date: Thursday May 2, 2024.
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Co-Op Live arena in Manchester. Pic: PA

No toilets for those queuing for hours

Fan Eileen Allardyce also claimed there were “no toilets” while she queued outside from around 4pm.

“I’m very disappointed, more so [with] the venue because, obviously, everyone was unravelling on social media, everyone knew what the situation was and the venue completely let us down,” she said.

Dutch Police told Sky News Minaj was detained and eventually fined for “illegally exporting soft drugs from the Netherlands to another country”.

The rapper claimed she arrived at her hotel in Manchester early on Sunday after spending “5-6 hours” in a cell in Amsterdam.

She then invited fans to her hotel, where according to videos on social media, she spoke to the crowds outside.

“I wanted to honestly tell you that I love you,” she said.

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On X, the 41-year-old said the venue was “willing to go past 11pm”, but unidentified members of staff had “succeeded at their plan to not let me get on that stage tonight”.

A new date should be announced on Sunday, she added.

“One July option & one June option is currently being discussed. I’ll find a way to not only make up the date with the performance but I’m going to create an added bonus for everyone that had a [ticket] for this show. Promise,” she wrote.

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The new £365m Co-op Live arena has been plagued with problems even before it opened on 14 May.

The 23,500-capacity venue was originally due to open with two Peter Kay stand-up shows on 23 and 24 April, but that was pushed back when problems emerged at a test event headlined by Rick Astley.

The arena then planned for US rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie to open the arena on 1 May, but that was called off an hour before his performance, when the ventilation system fell from the ceiling.

The ventilation issue meant scheduled performances by US pop star Olivia Rodrigo and British band Keane were also postponed, while a series of shows by Take That were moved to the AO Arena elsewhere in Manchester.

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Sir Elton John’s next album ‘won’t be his last’, songwriting partner says

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Sir Elton John's next album 'won't be his last', songwriting partner says

An album of “incredibly personal” new songs from Sir Elton John won’t be the singer’s last, according to his long-term songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. 

“It’s a pretty amazing project, very cool…it tells a lot of stories and it’s incredibly personal, but it’s certainly not final.”

Few details are known about what fans can expect from Sir Elton‘s new music, but the legendary lyricist says he thinks it will be released before Christmas.

Bernie Taupin speaking at an event earlier this week. Pic: Mark Allan
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Bernie Taupin speaking at an event earlier this week. Pic: Mark Allan

“It’s all done, it’s all in the can and ready to come out, I think, at the end of this year,” Taupin told Sky News.

While Sir Elton, 77, announced his retirement from touring last year, bowing out with a performance on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, Taupin says they have no plans to stop making music together.

“You always think ‘is the next album going to be the last?’ but, I think, both Elton and I, we just have this creative drive and we have this ultimate total love for music on every different level.”

Taupin, who’s lived in California since the 70s, has been back in England after being invited to speak at The Other Songs Live, an evening celebrating songwriters old and new.

More on Elton John

“Anything that nurtures talent, you know, gets my ear,” Taupin insists.

He remains one of the most successful lyricists in the world, having collaborated for more than half a century with Sir Elton, selling more than 300 million records globally, and together writing more than 30 albums.

Bernie Taupin receives the Musical Excellence Award from Elton John during the 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., November 3, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
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Bernie Taupin receives the Musical Excellence Award from Sir Elton John at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last November. Pic: Reuters

And while Taupin’s lyrics are firmly embedded in modern pop culture, he says he struggles to explain what his secret is.

“It’s very difficult for me because, in a nutshell, my answer is I don’t know, I just do it.”

Bernie Taupin receives the Musical Excellence Award during the 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., November 3, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
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Bernie Taupin told Sky News Sir Elton’s next album won’t be his last. Pic: Reuters

But one thing he’s certain of is that it’s a skill a computer just can’t replicate.

“I loathe and detest the whole idea of AI… from a creative musical standpoint, it cannot write songs as well as the human heart can because it’s got no heart.

“I’ve seen the product of AI, you know, when they’ve said write a song in the style of so-and-so and it’s complete shit.”

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For Taupin, one-half of one of the world’s most successful songwriting partnerships, he’s not ready to be written off by technology.

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