The F-word takes new dimensions when food and fashion meet. Our Fashionista, Neeti, takes us through the interesting maze of food-fashion confluences. Her in-depth research narrative is in two parts. In the first section, she dwells on the direct inspiration of food on fashion. In the second part, she elucidates how fashion has influenced food. Here’s an interesting take on food and fashion, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
Everyone has definitely heard about the infamous “Meat dress” worn by the daring singer Lady Gaga, but trust me, that’s not the only connection between food and fashion!
Let’s take a break from the apparel world and move to a new angle all together this week! Trust me you will be as surprised, even shocked, to know about the interesting ways in which Food and Fashion are so connected, just like I was!
I dare you to join me in unravelling or rather peeling off layers of this unusual hybrid collaboration…but let me warn you, you may feel very, very hungry after reading this and seeing the images.
This article is certainly not for the faint-hearted, or I should say hungry stomachs! So keep something healthy handy and chomp on, I mean read on folks!
Part 1: The Direct Inspiration
If you have been a regular follower of my Fashion Funda articles, you would agree that fashion takes inspiration from almost everything! Everything is kind of connected when it enters a designers mind…you never know what inspires the form, colour, texture, aroma or even taste!
Here are some interesting examples of products designed taking direct inspiration from food!
- The next time you visit KFC Hong Kong and see a woman licking her fingers, don’t be surprised! Ya, Ya I know their food is ‘finger-licking- good’ and all but the reason could be something different! KFC Hong Kong is currently offering a special ‘Fried Chicken flavoured Nail Polish’! Yes, you read it right! It’s available in two flavours – Original and Hot and Spicy! Ooh, does that tingle your taste buds? The reviews are that it does taste exactly like their chicken, which is excellent from a scientific perspective but kinda disturbing from every other angle!
- Another weird food beauty item is a perfume called ‘Burger King Whopper Perfume’. Now, as you would have guessed, it smells exactly like the big whopper burger by them! It definitely is a good idea for their salesmen to wear this and distribute their pamphlets but imagine yourself going for a trek to the jungles wearing this perfume. Umm, I promise you would meet a group of hyenas, who would not be far behind, lured by the smell, or maybe you got a chance to share a meal with the lions? (Unless they find you smelling tempting enough to eat for a meal! Slurp, slurp!) Still running to pick up this perfume?
- Coming to running, would you like to compensate for the lost calories by going for a doughnut date with me wearing ‘Krispy Kreme shoes’ that look like fresh doughnuts with strawberry crème…? Wham! That was a mouthful! Umm, I’m already drooling here! Or maybe pick up these temptingly sinful Nike shoes that look like chocolate icing or another Nike version of shoes called ‘chicken and waffle beauties’? You have to see these to believe these…. Looks tempting enough to lick, hard to imagine wearing them and running in muddy puddles! I have a feeling they adorn wardrobes more than the streets!
- In this world of fondant cakes, how can I miss mentioning the array of designs inspired by fashion brand logos and items! Confess that at least once, all you fashionistas and shopaholics have been tempted to order that special fondant cake or cupcakes that celebrate the true diva in you! Your love for luxury and brands, shoe fetish all of it expressed through these designer cakes! I’m sure they are on your next birthday list…
- Food has inspired the shapes and designs of so many interesting varieties of accessories like hair clips, charms and handbags! Check out these images and add them to your collection soon! Trust me, you will turn heads and start conversations when you are dressed up with these cool accessories! Also, perfects for return gifts and kids love them! Feed your inner child, go a little wild! The colours, the smell, mmmm, Okay I need to stop!
- Food inspired runway collections: Designers like Moschino love going offbeat and check out his range of apparel inspired by fast food! The prominent McDonalds logo, the sack garments and the red hot bag, to name a few! Other designers have also experimented and been inspired by food. Some even upcycled the food boxes, spoons, wrappers, and created interesting outfits. The message of over commercialism is loud and clear.
So what do you think of these interesting collections, out-of- the-box or should I say, out-of- the-wrapper ideas?
Part 2– Just like fashion there are trends in food too! Here’s a short list of some of the trends that are rocking the food world. I am sure all of you would relate to these!
1. Going Green /Organic: These are the keywords, the buzz words of the century and suddenly you see the ‘organic’ label everywhere…be it apparel or makeup and also food! Pesticide free food is the need of the hour. Many people are leaving their corporate run-of- the-mill jobs and going back to farming, preparing their lands to be pesticide free. Restaurants are completely growing organic vegetables and fruits and serving them fresh. Raw, cold pressed juices are popular for health conscious individuals. Juice bars and organic food cafés are the in-thing, the buzz word.
2. Clean Labels and Menus: No I don’t mean wipe-it-clean literally, but wipe it clean of pesticides and chemicals. Consumer demands for natural and “less processed” food and drink are forcing companies to remove artificial ingredients.
After watching aggressive consumers attack Big Food companies over chemicals and additives, Big Restaurants are all of a sudden dumping some artificial (and other bad-for-you) ingredients from their menus. Everyone is looking at the “healthification” of fast- and fast-casual food. A recent survey found that 36% of consumers worried about “chemicals” in their food … in another survey, 40% of consumers report it’s “very important” that foods use all-natural ingredients, free of GMOs and artificial flavours or colours. Time will tell if these are gimmicks or are true. It is often said that the best label on the food is NO LABEL, as that means it’s totally fresh and served to you without any chemical addition at all! Agree?
3. Home Cooking: On the one hand, people are travelling and exploring different cities and cuisines, on the other hand, they are understanding the value of a home cooked simple meal made with love and fresh, hygienic produce. Heartwarming conversations over home cooked meals are coming back in focus, leading to some of the other trends I will mention further.
4. Kitchen Gardens: People are understanding that the more they control the raw material the more they can control the quality of the final product. So many are going back to kitchen gardens growing fresh herbs and even vegetables and grains in their backyards. Gardens in pots or terraces are popular and there are many workshops in cities by horticulturists and nature enthusiasts giving the wind to this fire!
5. Souping it up: Souping is the new juicing, it’s a trend picking up like fire as soups keep the fibre, seeds, rind, and pulp that juicing often discards, so it’s healthier and heartwarming, of course!
6. Cooking Reality Shows and Competitions: Masterchef has taken the world by storm! So many cues up and audition for this show! It is fun to watch….Being a celebrity cook isn’t such a far-fetched dream anymore. Such shows have inspired many to take up cooking classes and learn new dishes! Many full-time cooking channels have started and offer health and nutrition advice and make us better cooks at home, getting accolades for trying new tasty dishes! The rise of food-centric media has sparked new interest in cooking, not only for the sake of nourishment but for the purposes of sharing one’s creations via social media.
7. On-the-go Meals and Convenience Foods: Travelling is everyone’s favourite past time these days! A three-day weekend means trekking or a peaceful long drive to nearby holiday getaway! One packs ready-to- eat snacks, instant soups-n- noodles, juices, one person meals, it’s all stuff flying off the racks! There is even ‘Wine-in-a-can’ now!!
8. Cafes in Stores /Deliveries /App Based Food Ordering Services: Zomato gives reviews and you can also order it. Most restaurants have a delivery-only app and offer their full menu on quick delivery! Many have tie-ups with taxi cabs like Uber for their deliveries! Namely FoodPanda or TravelKhana, Swiggy, Faasos, Burrp! These are some of the famous apps! Many fashion brand retailers have in-house cafes, as they don’t want to risk the customer leaving their stores even to get a meal! So there, they go an extra step and offer the whole deal! Retailers are discovering the magic of ‘dwell time’…. the longer you keep a shopper on the premises, the more the shopper will buy per hour of stay.
9. More Products with Less Sugar: I’m no food expert but seeing the direction of trends but it’s very evident that companies will be under increasing pressure to reduce the added sugar content of their products and, as a result, will be turning to more of the so-called ‘natural sweeteners’, like stevia, maple syrup, agave syrup, monk fruit, date sugar, and coconut palm sugar, etc., etc. But there is no guaranteeing that these do benefit or not, as many of which are metabolised by the body no differently than sucrose.
10. New Blends with Benefits: Beet flavoured yoghurt, fusion smoothies and high vegetable pasta, Fortified juices and milk, are popular. Taste and health fuse to diffuse any unpleasant flavours. Health-conscious millennials are gravitating toward healthier mixers and combining exercise with hedonism when it comes to alcohol.
11. Tastes for new Experiences / ‘Glocal’ Food: More and more people are open to experimenting new cuisines. Restaurants serving Japanese, Thai, Italian, Vietnamese and many other cuisines are the in-thing! Local ingredients and species are good gifts for your folks back home!
12. Eat with your Eyes, Tweet with your fingers: Food blog, Facebook or Instagram it! Food plating is an upcoming trend! Chefs and even homemakers are spending a lot of time in plating dishes beautifully to appeal to the first sense-sight! We eat with our eyes first and a tempting platter of even kebabs made from boring veggie like gourds, pumpkins etc could attract kids! Mothers are hiding greens in sauces and gravy’s to ensure kids gets their daily dose of vitamins! People click their food and share on social media before they eat it …so the chef’s better spruce up some visual treats…taste becomes secondary!
13. ‘Veggie-ing’ it up: There is a rise of Vegetarian menu in most restaurants! Veggies are pushing animal protein to the side of the plate … or entirely off it. Relentlessly rising meat prices, horror over extra added-hormones, the addition of antioxidants, health-and- diet concerns, the growth of fresh farmers markets and increase in numbers of flexitarians is causing a steep rise in Vegetarians!
14. Last but not the least the new buzz word today is 3-D Printed Food! A lot of work is going on in this area and prototypes being made though not available full swing in the market. There is, however, a restaurant in London called ‘Food Ink’ that serves fully 3-d printed food! Food is pulped and put into tubes and as per what you feed into the machine, the food will be printed and served. Check out the video to see how it happens. This maybe the trend for the future!
Now that I have stimulated your taste buds, go order that designer cake for your next celebration! Pick up that apron and whip up a meal or invite your cool friends to go out shopping for the yummy knick knacks that will adorn your ears, your fingers or just add that extra zing to your wardrobe!!
Check out links for more information and pictures! Keep drooling! Umm, I mean reading my articles and sending feedback and comments!
Pix from Net sourced by author.
Neeti Banga, a fashion professional, is currently a faculty at her Alma Mater, NIFT, New Delhi. Her poems and short stories have won national and international awards. These are published in various anthologies. Her Poetry anthology, ‘The Dewdrops…a journey begins’, with two co-poets is a best seller. Wild, nomadic and romantic at heart, her gypsy soul finds solace in expression through painting and writing. She is penning her short story collection and her debut novel.