- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
From catwalk to kitchen, fashion businesses are launching restaurants, bars and eateries, as brand extenders and not just in their own boutiques.
In-store cafes have long been de rigeur, with Nicole Fahri’s infamous 202 restaurant in Notting Hill one of the earliest to attract the style-set and merge the bridge between food and fashion. It was a place to lunch, brunch, eat amongst the well-heeled and admire the handsome staff.
In London, the fifth floor bar and restaurant at Harvey Nichols was once buzzing with fashionistas when fashion week was held at the Natural History Museum. Others were the Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market, the café at Bluebird, Joseph’s flagship boutique basement cafe Joe’s and Emporio Armani’s first floor restaurant, the latter attracting the west London ladies-who-lunch brigade.
Designers moonlighting as restaurateurs is now serious business, with formidable chefs and equity to compete with famous names like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey, some of which have earned their Michelin stars, like Gucci’s Osteria in Florence, which has theatrical chef Massimo Bottura as its proprietor.
Milan’s stylish Pasticceria Marchesi is now part of the Prada Group, which operates three pastry shops in the Italian fashion capital as well a recently opened Mount Street venue in London’s Mayfair. Prada also houses restaurant Torre, located on the sixth floor of the tower at Fondazione Prada’s Milan venue, designed by starchitect Rem Koolhaas in 2018.
Globalisation has made fashion homogenous
Footfall may be one driver of why fashion businesses ventured into food. Whereas the edit of luxury collections is largely homogenous across the world, food is still seen as local, artisanal and differs between cities. A café in a boutique highlights a sense of conviviality and community, making it less about shopping and consumption, but more about interaction and experience.
Louis Vuitton last month opened its first culinary hotspot in Osaka, Japan. Housed on the top floor of its Maison, Le Café V and Sugalabo V feature dishes from famed chef Yosuke Suga. LVMH is no stranger to the hospitality sector, having launched a new concept of high-end luxury hotels in 2006 with Cheval Blanc in Courchevel. As luxury groups diversify their portfolios, they are bringing a sense of prestige and refinement to the hospitality industry with their uncompromising quality, exclusivity, sophistication and craftsmanship.
It would appear that stylish places to eat, sleep and experience will never go out of fashion.
Image: Le Café V, courtesy Louis Vuitton