I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Montreal-based international color marketing expert, Catherine Larose. She recently visited The Twig Bookshop in San Antonio’s historic Pearl Brewery for a meet-and-greet and book signing. Any Color But Beige: Living Life in Color is an honest femoir documenting Larose’s ethnically diverse background, her globe-trotting career, lifestyle, and relationships.
“The book itself is what I call a circular memoir,” says Larose, “it starts off with my very colorful Irish-Italian-American childhood. Then growing up and my life as an adult—during which I lived a very beige and secure marriage in the suburbs; my beige existence.” One of the most significant changes in Larose’s life came one day when working in Paris. While gazing at the Paris sunset she “wanted to fold it up, put it in my pocket and take it home with me.” Larose discovered that something was missing from her life—color—and didn’t want to continue living the rest of her life in beige. “I made some major changes to put color back into my life, which is very ironic because I sell color for a living,” Larose begins, “so here I am putting color into everyone’s lives as a result of my job, traveling the world, not realizing all along that what’s missing from my life is color.”
The book is divided into sections of Larose’s life based on color; primary colors coincide with her childhood, while colorblind coincides with her divorce. Chicago, Paris, Shanghai, Johannesburg, and Trieste are a few destinations of Larose’s life story, as is her creative career as an international color marketing expert. Her descriptive voice and presentations on color marketing and color intuition are clever, and made me feel like I was dropping in on conference rooms around the world. I’ll never look at color or a paint chip quite the same again, as there’s a “tactical side,” and a contextual story side to her job that is so specialized, and yet so every-day, you’d forget it must be somebody’s job to sell color.
But what Larose really does with color in this book is make you realize that color represents so much of who we are, who we want to be, and especially who others are. While I don’t want to give away the whole story, as featured in the book trailer above, Larose flies back home from Paris, divorces her husband, and paints her bedroom a beautiful Bordeaux red. “I’m not advocating divorce as a means to put color in your life, not at all, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been married for 20 years,” Larose says, “but I think that was necessary for me to move on in my life.”
Any Color But Beige: Living Life in Color is a memoir, but reads like a travel narrative, with a little red suitcase from Larose’s childhood dragging its way through Larose’s travels and life tribulations. The book is on sale at The Twig Bookshop in the Pearl Brewery or on Amazon, available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book. You can also check out Cat Larose’s blog, updated regularly, at Café Girl Chronicles
San Antonio native Desiree Prieto spent her twenties living in Rome, London and Chicago, where she worked in international tourism and wrote for various publications, including the Emmy award-winning NBC Chicago Street Team. She’s covered fashion week Chicago, New York City, and heads to Milan in 2012.