Editor’s Letter: March 2012
By Laura Aiken
Wedding season starts really jingling its bells in January.
Wedding season starts really jingling its bells in January. Cake artists and dessert purveyors to this particular clientele know that the runways can serve as a great indicator and inspiration. Fashion can and does cue food design. Couture cakes have even became popular with couples, with the cakes inspired by favourite designers.
Fashion can be an inspiration for every baker. Wedding trends aren’t the only reason for a reader of ours to read the fashion pages. Just think of the prints, colours and, most importantly, feel that fashion puts out there season after season. Do designers capture the mood of the time?
Sometimes. Do they try to define it? Definitely. Food also attempts to capture the mood of the times. Fashion and food are both mirrors through which we see our national sentiments. When food is strongly nostalgic, fashion rallies around vintage. I don’t believe this is an odd coincidence.
Plus, if you take design elements from the fashion world and apply them to your fine pastries, you’ll be piggybacking off some of the most powerful marketing in the world. For example, a pastel cakelette in your window will seem on trend, as pastels are coming around in a big way this spring and summer. Femininity and glamour in general are resounding themes. I recently turned to Vogue for a roundup of the top 10 trends they see for spring and 1920s influence turned up amongst them. Perhaps some inspiration for your bakery can be found in the pages of a cookbook of recipes from the 1920s? Of course, there are always the colours, prints and patterns of fashion to draw ideas from. What about a Chevron print on a chocolate bar or bold colour blocking on a cake? Design elements in fashion may not translate exactly to what can be done in food, but the inspiration is there. We all need a little “starter” if we’re going to be hotbeds of creativity and innovation.
Running a successful bakery means knowing how to keep your product lineup fresh and creative. People expect it these days. We are in the era of variety and individualism. Even the simplest of foods, like grilled cheese sandwiches, have been elevated to an art form on the great quest to serve the same old things in brand new ways.
The simplest but most novel visual detail can make one confection more memorable than another. After all, we taste with our eyes first. People portray an image of themselves through what they wear. Your bakery’s image is in the presentation of its goods. This isn’t a major revelation, but a reminder that it can be a great source of differentiation. Being memorable is more than just serving great food with great service. Being memorable is branding. It’s a business plan. There’s a lot of careful consideration, and most importantly for this discussion, creativity, behind that notion.
There are many ways to tap your inner artist, whether it is through fashion, through art or simply by connecting with nature. Sometimes, just a walk is enough. Just as desk junkies need to come out from behind their computers to see their work in a new light, so must bakers step outside their bakeries for a fresh perspective.