A far cry from the food courts of shopping malls, fashionable dining experiences have cropped up across the globe, presented by designers that prove that fashion isn’t just about the clothes. During the Spring/Summer 2020 season, many designers coupled their runway shows with edible accompaniments, from Celine’s buttery biscuits to Margiela’s MM6 massive wedding cake. This appetite for food and fashion has been growing for some time, however, with a number of luxe labels establishing permanent or limited-time eateries. From the Vivienne Westwood Café in Shanghai to the Gucci Osteria in Florence to Daniel Lee’s Bottega Diner pop-up in Miami last month, chic offerings that satiate the culinary and sartorial palates of the fashion set have become the trend du jour.
Chanel has always been at the head of luxury fashion, so it comes as no surprise that the French fashion house was among the first to open a glamorous restaurant in 2004. On the top floor of its Ginza flagship, Chanel’s Beige Alain Ducasse Tokyo provides a reprieve from shopping with an indulgent menu by the Michelin-rated French chef.
Several other brands have followed suit, brining fine dining to fashion. Last year, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele and renowned chef Massimo Bottura (whose famed Osteria Francescana has repeatedly earned three Michelin stars) opened the Gucci Osteria in Florence. Located within the Italian label’s renovated Gucci Garden complex, the restaurant takes a laidback approach to food (offerings include burgers, hot dogs, and tortellini) and a history-driven direction for its interior design. Along with its vibrant Gucci green walls, the decor references the Italian Renaissance and the cultural exchanges that Florence is known for with vibrant flourishes and tableware. On the sweet side, Christian Dior tapped pasty chef and chocolatier Pierre Hermé for its Café Dior in Seoul. Its delectable French pastries, desserts, and Instagram-ready Dior logo lattes were such a hit that another location was opened in Tokyo’s Ginza Six luxury mall in 2017, and the French flavors were brought to Miami for a pop-up cafe earlier this year.
These fashionable food outposts speak to the global appeal and presence of the designers. While the fashion capitals (New York, London, Milan, and Paris) focus much of the industry in the Western Hemisphere, designers have been increasingly exploring the East, particularly East Asia, for its vast luxury market. Along with Chanel and Dior, Vivienne Westwood, Hermès, and Roberto Cavalli have opened cafes in Asia including locations in Hong Kong, Seoul, and New Delhi, respectively.
Fashion labels such as DSquared2 and Versace have also explored other avenues of hospitality to create luxury respites. At the DSquared2 headquarters in Milan, named Ceresio 7, twin founders Dean and Dan Caten joined work and pleasure by adding a gym, spa, decked out guesthouse, and rooftop restaurant with two pools to the compound that also houses the brand’s offices. Versace took the same approach with its lavish Palazzo Versace hotels, one on Australia’s Gold Coast and the other in Dubai. In addition to luxury accommodations, a spa, gym, pool, and Vanitas restaurant at both locations reflect the opulence of Versace with gilded details and Italian baroque-printed decor. The house’s founder is also honored at Gianni’s at the Villa Casa Casuarina, the hotel which now operates at the former Versace mansion in Miami. With an Italian menu set in Gianni Versace’s own home, visitors are treated to a luxe Mediterranean-meets-Miami meal.While these brands explore their global presence, others have stuck closer to home, calling on heritage and house codes to create a dining experience. In London, Burberry opened Thomas’s Cafe–named after the brand’s founder–at its Regent Street flagship in 2015, catering to the brand’s English sensibility and serving British classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For the Parisian set, stepping into Simon Porte Jacquemus and Caviar Kaspia Group’s Oursin envelops patrons in the French designer’s perpetually sunny Mediterranean atmosphere, as does the pair’s lemon tree-lined Café Citron. Meanwhile, the Saint Laurent Café attracts visitors with its sleek black marble, branded coffee cups, downloadable playlist, and Anthony Vaccarello-curated art installations. A more colorful scope is offered in Milan, where Miuccia Prada’s Wes Anderson-designed Bar Luce welcomes guests with a pastel palette that complements the Italian fashion house’s retro-inspired designs.
There are several options stateside, too. The Tiffany & Co. Blue Box Cafe–which recently closed for renovations until 2021–presents a Fifth Avenue space decked out in its signature turquoise hue and offering a bona fide breakfast at Tiffany’s experience, along with other New York classics. Elsewhere in the Big Apple, Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar and Ralph’s Coffee (which also has global locations) meet visitors with the same sophisticated, American-bred timelessness that the designer’s runway reflects (fitting, since the Spring/Summer 2019 show transformed his entire Madison Avenue flagship into a cafe).
There has always been a hunger in the industry for shareable content, but these fashion-meets-food establishments are practically made for Instagram. Clever branding and consistent aesthetics reflect the designers’ taste for luxury in all areas, not only when it comes to the details of the fashion collections. When in limited time pop-up format, the brands have all the ingredients to go viral. Adding a transitory element feeds on people’s FOMO, which is only heightened when the initiated few begin sharing snaps of their cocoa-dusted Fendi logo coffees from the Fendi Caffe in Harrods or gold foil-wrapped burgers from The Bottega Diner in Miami. These experiential activations show that brands aren’t just selling clothes anymore, they’re creating memories that play with the senses–and giving new meaning to having a taste in fashion.
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