Berlin. Move over Lady Gaga and your meat dress. A Berlin museum is coupling haute couture with haute cuisine, spotlighting models draped in octopus tunics, seaweed miniskirts and chocolate dresses.
The creations by Michelin-starred Austrian chef Roland Trettl, captured in around 50 sumptuous stills by his compatriot photographer Helge Kirchberger, blur the lines of sensual pleasure in a feast for the eyes and the palate.
The Fashion Food exhibition at the Communication Museum in the German capital to January 29 dissects “taste” and flamboyant fashion statements, as well as notions of consumerism and sustainability in a rich society.
“The images are not salacious or pornographic but they are erotic and provocative and raise questions,” museum director Lieselotte Kugler told AFP, following an exhibition opening with two live models.
“This is also a celebration of food. When you think of all the food that is thrown away every year in Germany — including 5,000 tonnes of bread — everyone needs to consider how they approach food and how food is increasingly industrialised in our society.”
While US pop provocateur Lady Gaga raised eyebrows at an awards show last year with a dress made entirely of raw beef, many of the confections here could add up to a balanced diet.
One work entitled “Russian Lardo” features a trouser suit sewn from lean bacon, a delicate black scarf made of squid ink pasta and a resplendent headdress woven from frisee lettuce, red chillies and Daikon cress. Another shows a male model in a salmon tank top and lettuce-leaf trousers.
“Most of the food was not simply thrown away,” Kugler said of the photo shoots.
“The octopus is cooked three to four hours until it’s tender and the pasta can be boiled. Then everyone sits down and has a feast.”
Trettl and Kirchberger have pursued an on-again, off-again collaboration for about four years but the exhibition marks the first major presentation of their work to a broader audience.
They have published a book featuring many of the photographs in the show, complete with recipes and a foreword by the original high-fashion rebel, Vivienne Westwood.
“I would love to try them, but I hope someone else will prepare them,” the British designer said of the cooking tips using ingredients from the clothing.
She compared the portraits to those of 16th century Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo who incorporated images of fruits and vegetables in his works.
In other head-turners, Trettl turned a mass of “calf net” — fatty membrane from a calf’s stomach — into an elegant headscarf, paired with a prominent necklace made of quail eggs, and fashioned a sexy body suit from liquid dark chocolate, set against jewellery made of silver sugar pearls.
“Of course the chocolate had to simply be washed off when they were done, there was no salvaging it,” Kugler said.
“You only have about two minutes to photograph it, with a crew of 20 people. After that, it starts drying up and flaking off. It is a unique work of art comprised of the food and the model, the material and the form.”