From Haute Couture to Haute Cuisine
From Gucci to Louis Vuitton, luxury fashion brands are going into the restaurant business where they blend food, art and fashion together.
Though not obvious, fine dining and luxury fashion are parallel industries with a lot in common. They share everything from seasonality and trendiness, to reinvention and exclusivity. It only makes sense for the two industries to collide; revolutionising what it means to shop and eat.
Luxury fashion has always been far more than just about clothes. Nowadays, brands are looking to extend their influence and channel their creativity into other things in order to adapt to the ever-changing nature of business and fashion. So, what defines a luxury fashion house in 2022? Some might point to the kind of devoted following that deems the appointment of any new creative lead as controversial. For example, a shift into the lifestyle sector complete with a homeware line, or perhaps, a destination restaurant.
Not a week goes by without at least one fashion brand announcing the opening of a café or restaurant bearing its logo. As life returns to normal after two years of pandemic — with consumers eager to go out — the restaurant industry is emerging as a new segment for the luxury industry to conquer. Leading luxury brands have always found a natural outlet in the culinary segment, but with the re-emergence of the experience economy and the rise of digital media, never before has this phenomenon experienced such a frenzy as in this period.
Fashion restaurants and cafés are not a foreign concept. Early March, Louis Vuitton opened its first restaurant, located in France and called “The Mory Sacko at Louis Vuitton“, and nearby at Dior’s 30 Montaigne store stands their iconic “Monsieur Dior” restaurant. Both are huge attractors to the brand and represent their aesthetic and style within both the interiors of the restaurant and the menu that it has to offer. The idea that fashion and food are unlikely partners is an outdated way of thinking.
However, what surely started as a quest to keep shoppers in store has become a new kind of showroom for creativity and craft.
The Synergy Between Food, Fashion and Creativity
There seems no need for limitations when it comes to the quality of dining and innovation in these fashion eateries. Luxury houses use these gastronomic ventures as part of their branding; utilising it as another platform to show off their exquisite presentation, artistic design, fine ingredients and attention to detail. Customers are promised all of the brand’s trademark standards and character, but in the form of a dining experience rather than a pair of shoes.
For example, the Gucci Garden within the historic Palazzo della Mercanzia is more than just Gucci’s flagship store but a near-religious experience for those who love fashion. Showrooms double as galleries offering an intimate, self-guided historical tour detailing Gucci’s past and present as well as an all-round sensory experience to eat, breathe and live Gucci.
Inside the space includes Gucci Osteria, a restaurant helmed by renowned Michelin-starred chef, Massimo Bottura. Designed by Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, tactile fabrics, rich embroidery and quirky prints coalesce with animals and florals surrounding the restaurant. With its signature glade print wallpaper, an air of vintage luxury runs through the restaurant. The space is meant to represent Gucci’s core aesthetic and values, but the interior design isn’t the only thing reflecting Gucci’s heritage. Massimo Bottura made sure to incorporate the design aesthetic and quirky nature of Gucci in his food, with brightly coloured risottos and meringues made to imitate a broken vase, this is cooking that is both whimsical and grounded; it’s where fashion meets food, and art meets cuisine.
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Jacquemus’ Citron café in the Galeries Lafayette Champs Elysées follows suit, with its interior designed to be reminiscent of his childhood. The decor has the charm of a town square in the South of France, complete with ochre amphoras, lemon trees and furniture in light wood. On the menu, visitors will find highlights hand-picked from the local Parisian food scene, including pastries from the traditional patisserie Stohrer and confectionery from A La Mere de Famille. For luxury brands, restaurants are no longer just about good food and ambience, it’s about communicating an idea, aesthetic and representing the brand’s heritage and value through innovative dishes and interior design.
The Appeal of Designer Cuisine to Luxury Brands
In addition to finding a new outlet of creativity for the brand, it is also a good way for them to diversify their revenues (something much needed after the pandemic), and broaden its audience while encouraging the customer to prolong their presence in their spaces to encourage them to consume more of their products. By creating a complete universe around the brand, they manage to build better customer loyalty and relations.
Not to mention the publicity generated on social media by photos of beautiful dishes presented naturally on clearly recognisable, branded, tableware. Experience is now the new mantra of luxury. Since the emergence and eventual popularity of online shopping and social media, the fashion industry has seen a shift in consumer trends and priorities. Consumer spending has shifted towards wellness, hospitality and dining, and the diversification allows brands to reinforce their image and positioning as lifestyle brands.
Capitalising on the new gastronomic love of consumers, particularly younger ones, luxury houses are creating new touch points through their gastronomic spaces, while offering their customers a new type of multi-sensory experience. This incursion of fashion into the kitchen also allows creative directors to display their innovation and appreciation for the heritage, aesthetic and values of their respective luxury house.
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