The fashion and beauty industries are inextricably linked to the senses, “but there has been nothing in fashion connected to taste,” says chocolatier Pierre Marcolini.
Until recently. This season, Marcolini is offering his famous Belgian chocolates in a box created by Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos of British fashion label Peter Pilotto. The brightly coloured box was inspired by board games and created to look attractive from every angle. The duo applied to packaging the ideas they bring to their catwalk shows. “It’s important that every aspect speaks to each other — the collection, the runway space and the soundtrack,” says Pilotto. “And it was the same thing here.”
Marcolini is just one chocolatier among a clutch of culinary artists bringing the “taste” of a brand to the palate: Roberto Cavalli packages its pralines in animal print boxes (Harrods, from £38.95), and Armani offers chocolate bars (from €9), shortbread cookies (€17) and individual pralines (from €4.50), each embossed with an “A”.
While not available to buy, one of the most satisfying aspects of a meeting at the Hermès headquarters is sweetening one’s coffee with the house’s H-shaped sugar cubes.
Not to be outdone, Karl Lagerfeld designed the five-tier vanilla génoise cake for AnOther magazine’s 15th birthday party held last month at Coco Chanel’s private apartment in Paris. “I thought I was hallucinating when this giant cake was presented,” recalls AnOther’s co-founder Jefferson Hack. (Lagerfeld is a dab hand at confectionery: in 2014 he created a cake in the shape of a Rouge Shine lipstick for Tokyo restaurant Beige.)
“We like to push our product in a way that is not generally expected in the chocolate world,” says Marcolini, whose first fashion collaboration was with Olympia le Tan in 2014, for which they packaged truffles in a pretty pink box that mimicked the brand’s clutch bags. “We saw women using the box as a clutch bag,” says Marcolini. For many, branded sweets are an accessible way into a label: a SS16 maxidress by Peter Pilotto costs £3,230; a box of their chocolates is £39.90.
For their part, beauty brands Bobbi Brown and Benefit have launched afternoon teas as a means of promotion. At Bobbi Brown’s tea at Balthazar in London, created to mark the brand’s 25th anniversary, guests are offered a chocolate and blackberry “gel eyeliner” Sachertorte and a red lip-shaped mousse. “The perfect pick-me-up, just like my lipsticks,” says Brown. After tea, diners are invited to visit Bobbi Brown’s Covent Garden store for a make-up lesson, and the chance to pick up a “Balthazar” red lipstick.
Meanwhile make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench recently explored the relationship between beauty and food with a “Pharmaceuticals” dinner at Bistrotheque, London. Guests were served a chocolate lipstick dessert with a tart strawberry sauce — “a lipgloss for diners to wear as they consumed,” she says.
“The industry is so saturated with the next big thing that brands need these bursts of creativity to make a mark,” says perfumer Roja Dove, who collaborated with chocolatier Marc Demarquette for the launch of his Profumi D’Amore collection, a “scented” dinner at the Ritz. Says Dove: “Taste and scent are so closely linked that as a perfumer I’d be a fool not to exploit the relationship between them.”
Marquette used 20,000 jasmine flowers to create the event’s 30 chocolates. “It’s evocative of how it takes 5 million blossoms — and 200 days’ labour — to produce 1kg of my Absolute fragrance,” says Dove. “Confectionery is a beautiful tool to help bring fashion, beauty and cosmetology to life.”