At a party in Paris, guests invited to preview Ganni’s new boutique admired the recycled plastic terrazzo-effect crate and browsed the Copenhagen brand’s youthful dresses. But it was the profiterole tower that created screams and cheers when it was rolled.
Created by Zélikha Dinga, a Parisian cook, the “croquembouche” cone of assembled choux pastry balls is barely a meter high, dotted with edible nasturtium flowers and three candles.
Gone are the days of fashionable events including a (low calorie) steamed fish and vegetable dinner; Sculptural, playful and hearty feasts await you. For Ditte Reffstrup, artistic director of Ganni, the emphasis is on pleasure: “It is important that our guests have a good meal before hitting the dance floor! she enthuses. Chef-artist Laila Gohar’s surreal culinary installations for brands such as Dover Street Market and Simone Rocha have wowed Instagram, and a new breed of “culinary creatives” are creating visually dynamic dishes at dinner parties hosted by luxury brands.
And rather than being stuck in a sweaty back kitchen, the new culinary crowd co-hosts in style, interacts with guests and lends brands their cultural cachet in the process.
Zélikha Dinga, founder of Caro Diario
Zélikha Dinga’s specialty is sweets as intriguing as their taste. “Food is an icebreaker,” she says. “You see this weird thing, and you think, can I eat this? And you start talking. Motivated in part by a childhood where sugar was banned, the 33-year-old Parisian gave up a career as a publisher in 2017 to attend cooking school, work in restaurants and bake cakes.
Now she focuses on making imaginative spreads with her company Caro Diario, founded in 2019. Highlights include mini mousse and jelly bites for Nina Ricci, biscotti lunch boxes for Gucci and baby pink glazed donuts for a breakfast celebrating a collaboration. between the brand of sneakers Véja and the brand of accessories Mansur Gavriel.
She thinks food has coincided with fashion’s shift towards inclusivity. “I’m a black woman, maybe 15 years ago I wouldn’t have been asked to appear as a chef at fashion events. And I’m not tall and skinny or model size Her greatest joy is seeing people enjoy her creations, “If it’s like an art installation that nobody touches, then it’s a waste. It has to be something that’s both visual and delicious.” .
Marie Méon, founder of Manger Manger
Marie Méon knows the aesthetics of luxury better than anyone: she has spent nearly a decade designing store interiors for Chanel and Dior. Growing up in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and French father, the 40-year-old credits Japanese culture with fueling her obsession with food, which she describes as “like a religion”. However, cooking was always just a weekend pastime until in 2010 she started hosting pop-up dinner parties in her Haussmann apartment in Paris with two friends.
Today, she describes herself as a “culinary creator,” operating as Manger Manger with clients including Hermès, Cartier and Paco Rabanne, and has her own line of cooking ingredients and Murano glassware.
“I used to think: space, colors and finishes in my previous works. Today, my tools are ingredients — that’s the only difference,” she says. “All of these fashion makers see that food is perhaps the best way to communicate. Nothing is more powerful than bringing people together and having them share a polysensory moment.
The hyphens are useful for Imogen Kwok, 31, who describes herself as an “artist-chef”. “For some jobs, I don’t even cook myself,” she says. “I design the concept, create a menu, but then it can extend to washing up, overseeing the flowers. Then, my role changes when people arrive, and I welcome.
For a recent feast for jewelry brand Alighieri, Kwok presided over a dramatic tablescape of couscous pastilles garlanded with tomatoes, herbs and scallops, welcoming guests with glasses of champagne while wearing a bejeweled top. of the brand. She loves dressing up to host: “In a way, it just makes sense to me. A relationship with your body and your sense of touch are common to both food and fashion.
Born in Sydney to a Korean mother and Chinese father, Kwok creates concept dishes for fashion houses and workshops for brands such as Loewe, for whom she hosted an interactive food tasting evening to allow guests to “taste” the brand’s fall 2021 collection. “Fashion and food are seamless to me,” she says.
Tara Thomas, co-founder of Breaking Bread NYC
“I don’t like to say I treat,” says Tara Thomas, 24, who has made vegan food for Sephora events and Glossier videos. “I’m a co-host – I want to have a creative ability. I present myself as myself, I’m not going to be in the back in the kitchen, I’m going to be there in the front.
The dinner she hosted for former J Crew creative director Jenna Lyons to celebrate furniture designer Sarah Ellison was a case in point: at Lyon’s New York apartment, Thomas co- directed a rum-based cocktail menu and organized a wine list, cooked and served. masala carpaccio, spring vegetables and dates stuffed with hazelnuts with marinated mango, and met the guests.
“If food is the main attraction, I want it to be a complete experience. I want everyone to feel nurtured and build relationships,” says Thomas. She is also the co-founder of Breaking Bread NYC, a non-profit organization that serves food boxes and meals to communities facing food insecurity, has signed with a talent agency, and has modeled for Roland Mouret and Vogue Italia. .
“I really don’t know anything about fashion,” laughs Alice Moireau. “I like to dress up and wear fun outfits, but I don’t follow fashion weeks, I don’t know who’s cool right now!” Spotted as a teenager, Moireau, 26, has modeled for Mango, Fendi and French it-girl label Rouje, but food is her thing. She spent her childhood accompanying her father to the market and helping him cook beloved French recipes for his family.
When lockdown hit, she hunkered down in her family home in Olivet, a scenic town two hours south of Paris, cooked pots of comfort food and posted her recipes on Instagram. Soon she had a book deal.
Today, she plans events for lifestyle brands, models occasionally (for a recent Rouje campaign, she cooked a photogenic Christmas banquet then performed in the accompanying imagery with her friends), and directs. its tableware brand Table. She turns down jobs where brands prioritize visuals over taste. “A lot of times these dinners look good but they don’t taste so good.” Exemption? Her homemade strawberry pies.
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