Archive for Sunday, December 1, 2002

Chocolate couture makes mouth water

December 1, 2002

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— Talk about chocolate that goes straight to your hips.

At the fifth annual Chocolate Show held in New York, fashion designers teamed with pastry chefs to create outfits that were identifiable as both candy and couture.

Practicality, though, wasn't a consideration, since none of the models could sit down without cracking her clothes.

A flapper-style dress with a bodice covered in pink and brown chocolate roses was the product of a partnership between Nicole Miller and Nicole Kaplan of the Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park. It looked a lot like the cocktail dresses that Miller will offer this spring but those don't boast fringe made of chocolate beads that gave the skirt some swing.

It took three weeks to make, according to Kaplan. The dress didn't melt on the model because she wore a body-skimming short skirt underneath the fringe that kept the chocolate away from her body :quot; and her body heat.

While a master with a pastry bag, can Kaplan sew? "Not that well," she admits.

Designer Chris Barreto, who defines her clothes as wearable art, created a South American-inspired corset dress with Francois Payard, who has patisseries in New York and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

They started with foam, which they sculpted in the shape of the miniskirt dress. The foam, explains Barreto, keeps the chocolate dress in place while shielding it from body heat. After applying four layers of Garoto dark chocolate from Brazil to the foam, the final touch is a layer of an edible gelatin-based "varnish," which gives it a glossy, leathery look and helps keep the dress cool.

To complement the dress, Barreto and Payard also made a floppy hat and decorated a pair of tights using melted chocolate.

In the over-the-top category (as if the others weren't), Martin Howard, pastry chef at Brasserie and Brasserie 8 1/2, both in Manhattan, created an enormous bouffant wig -- made of chocolate, of course. The model walked down the runway in a dark-chocolate full skirt with white and milk-chocolate embroideries, and armed herself with several cans of "Choqua Net" to keep her hair in place.

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