Iridescence is Everywhere

Iridescence: More Than Meets the Eye

Why does this shimmering opalescent hue continue to attract our eye?


Iridescence defined

According to several dictionaries, iridescence is defined as either “a lustrous rainbow-like play of color caused by differential refraction of light waves that tend to change as the angle of view changes” or “a lustrous or attractive quality or effect.”

The second definition is essentially intertwined with the first; as long as this quality has been in existence, it’s mesmerized and drawn in any outside viewer who sees it.


According to Wikipedia, Iridescence (also known as goniochromism) is the phenomenon of certain surfaces that appear to gradually change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes. Examples of iridescence include soap bubbles, butterfly wings, and seashells, as well as certain minerals.

Trending in fashion, packaging, and homewares

The unicorn effect of using holographic, iridescent fabrics makes a prominent appearance for fall fashion. The iridescent trend is alive and well.

FWNY models


Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, thinks the most recent push towards iridescence in our culture started about 11 or 12 years ago.

All-star designers of all stripes like Sebastian Scherer (light design), Wanda Nylon(fashion design), and Peter Saville (graphic design) began creating iridescent products, and Eiseman has stated that as it becomes more popular and more designers add to the iridescent body of work, the standard for originality, beauty, and sophistication within iridescent design is on the rise.

Glamour and Wealth

Iridescence is by no means a completely modern trend.  There is something about it that is universally attractive and always has been.

One could theorize that one reason it draws us in is that it conjures associations of glamour and wealth – and historically this has been true for a long time. The chemical reaction of precious oils and perfumes inside burial glass bottles and flask created wonderful colorful effects of iridescence.

Indeed, in ancient Roman civilizations, owners of iridescently-colored glass bottles and flasks often had them buried with their own bodies because of the connections to luxury and financial good luck.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was fascinated by the unusual way in which glass weathered, and after much experimenting was finally able to recreate this with his “iridising” process by exposing heated glass to acidic fumes he could make all sorts of colors appear, as if by magic. He patented this method in 1894 and called his invention Favrile glass. This is a corruption of the old English word fabrile, which means handcrafted.

Iridescent glass vase
Vase, iridescent glass
1896-1900 Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 – 1933)
The Mesdag Collection, The Hague


There also exist recent studies that indicate that young children and even infants, who are too young to have internalized such concepts, prefer looking at and playing with objects that have an iridescent, shiny quality over ones that don’t. The theory is that we are drawn to shiny things because our brains associate them with water.

A Natural Occurrence

Although the word iridescence often calls to mind conspicuous colors used in gaudy courtship displays, iridescent coloration can also function as camouflage, warning coloration, or species recognition signals, according to NCBI.


Even certain types of birds have seemingly developed iridescence in their feathers as an evolutionary advantage in attracting mates, and flowers that display iridescent qualities are significantly correlated with higher levels of pollination by their bee occupants.


Hollywood is Shimmering

The use of iridescent glimmer is found in the high-concept sci-fi film Annihilation


Simulated Iridescence 

Despite the clear association between iridescent qualities and glamour, when it comes to ways to create iridescent “looks” in promotional packaging without burning through a budget, there are several creative ways.


Silver Hologram Hydrate
Silver Hologram Hydrate
Silver Hologram Hydrate
Silver Hologram Hydrate closeup


This iridescent look can be accomplished by using laser hologram printing technology on PET film. The micro-embossed grooves cause diffraction of normal white light into stunning spectral color.

hologram film
hologram film


The PET film can vary in flexibility, paired with a different base material you can achieve a different feel and look. This light deflecting film can be applied to a different array of materials, ranging from the more high-end materials plastics such as TPU shown below on the train case, PVC, natural or synthetic fabrics like neoprene, down to most cost-effective material like non-woven PP.

Train Case
Train Case
Train Case material closeup
Train Case material closeup


Iridescence is Everywhere

Take a look around and you will see this beautiful shimmer everywhere in day to day life. It’s no surprise that this material is now used in consumer packaging, fashion and even in the cosmetic industry.

You can now enjoy this iridescent trend too with any budget in mind. Contact us and we will build you your own customized iridescent look. Need a different configuration? No Problem. We can customize anything to your needs. Just ask!

With a flair for style and working knowledge of current fashion trends, material availability and quality standards, CDP’s creative and production team are able to create a custom product that will help make your sales promotion a success.

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