I've been reading Graham Greene's A Burnt-Out Case, and came upon this sentence: "She finished off a horrible mauve dessert before she spoke again."
It got me thinking: we don't really have mauve things any more, do we? Most people, if they could be bothered to express an opinion, would suggest that mauve is just a kind of purple, possibly a bit paler than the norm, which then leads to the question of why the paler versions of some colours (pink, mauve) have special names, while others (light blue, light green) don't. But would you really want to paint your bathroom mauve, or buy a pair of mauve shoes? Would anyone have wanted 2 see U laughing in the dark mauve rain?
Part of the problem is that there's no definitive rule on what's mauve and what's, say, lilac. Until Pantone swatch books become as ubiquitous as Harry Potter, we may as well all be talking different languages. It's possible that lots of things are mauve, but it's the word itself that's become passé, along with the likes of 'buff' and 'tawny'.
Go back to Greene, and you realise he's onto something with the conjunction of 'mauve' and 'horrible'. A purple dessert - something like a nice summer pudding, maybe - wouldn't have had the same effect. 'Mauve' doesn't just suggest a colour. It hints at something fake, concocted, synthetic. Which, of course, it originally was. Maybe that's it: in a world where we're desperate to clutch onto notions (delusions?) of authenticity, mauve just isn't real enough.