Dolce & Gabbana’s spring/summer 2010 campaign aptly demonstrates the close association between fashion and food in the Italian consciousness. Starring Madonna, one of the world’s most famous Italian-Americans, it depicts the singer as a voluptuous Italian housewife, peeling a boiled egg at a messy dining table in one image and feasting on handfuls of spaghetti in another. Throughout she cuts an impossibly glamorous figure and epitomises the domestic-goddess motif that is revered above all other Italian feminine ideals.
The connection between fashion and food is one that has been explored by many Italian labels in recent years – and with resounding success. Moschino’s autumn/winter 2014/15 collection took fast food as its inspiration, offering a range of logo T-shirts, French fries phone covers and milkshake shoulder bags. The label’s creative director Jeremy Scott reworked McDonalds’ Golden Arches, applying his ‘M’ to oversized jumpers, visors and sunglasses, as well as serving up Happy Meal box-bags.
This striking theme created some of the most photographed pieces of the season, seen on Anna Dello Russo, Katy Perry and Jourdan Dunn, among many others. Offering a high-end counterpoint to the fast-food pieces were gowns inspired by Hershey chocolate-bar wrappers, crisp packets and cereal boxes. ‘McDonald’s is part of our everyday lives,’ explained Scott in an interview with the Guardian newspaper in the UK. ‘When I design I always pull from things that are significant to me.’ To create beauty using such everyday references is truly a work of genius. Though McDonalds hamburgers are a far cry from Italian fine cuisine, it is just one example of the way food can capture the hearts and minds of the fashion community.
While Moschino is a master of provocative fashion, other labels took inspiration from food in a slightly more subtle way. At its Milan Fashion Week spring/summer 2015 show, Au Jour Le Jour showcased fruit-printed playsuits and minidresses adorned with biscuits and ice-cream cones; one sequined dress even featured miniature sushi rolls. Fashion powerhouse Fendi presented textured dresses in fluffy marshmallow pink and sugared almond blue. Gucci’s 70s-inspired collection boasted dresses in shades of tomato and cherry. Max Mara offered utilitarian dresses in shades of café au lait alongside caramel-coloured pencil skirts, while Trussardi’s wide-leg trousers featured a refreshing bite of pistachio. Every collection was a feast for the senses.
Food references also appeared at Milan’s spring/summer 2015 menswear presentations. Versace’s standout accessory was a picnic-hamper backpack, complete with a set of the brand’s opulent Medusa-covered tableware. ‘Versace is about a sense of humour,’ Donatella Versace explained to Dazed & Confused. ‘We have all these things – why not use them?’ Moschino’s men wore drinks-inspired bomber jackets and suits featuring fizzy-drink branding, while Andrea Incontri’s lemon and tangerine knitwear competed with Canali’s citrus-toned varsity jackets and T-shirts.
Taking style inspiration from food may seem unusual until you consider how important food is to Italy’s identity. Food is at the heart of the Italian experience – as evidenced by Expo Milano 2015’s food-based theme. Visitors to Italy are as likely to pick up a cake as a couture gown, with Eataly’s gourmet food stores, which stock pasta, wines, meats and cheeses, as popular as any of Emporio Armani’s boutiques. Happily, as the food and fashion industries continue to be intertwined, there’s no need to choose between the two. Buon appetito!