MILAN, Italy — The chiffon dress with the pasta print should have been the tipoff.
In September, the iconoclastic Italian designer house Dolce & Gabbana sent a parade of food-oriented outfits down the runway at the Paris show for its Spring 2018 collection, including high-waisted, carrot-and-radish-printed pants, a ruffled dress emblazoned with cannoli, and a skirt printed with cans of tomatoes.
Turns out, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have food on their minds these days. Specifically pasta. This fall, the duo partnered with the venerable Italian pasta maker Pastificio di Martino to produce an extremely limited edition tin of pastas along with a D&G-designed apron. Only 5,000 of the tins will be available worldwide; fewer than 1,000 of those will be available in the U.S.
Di Martino has been in the pasta business since 1912; its product was the first pasta to cross the Panama Canal. It’s pastas are now available worldwide and account for annual revenue of more than $163 million. In the US they’re available at Whole Foods.
The family-owned company is based in Gragnano, in Naples, a town known for the pedigree of its dried pasta. Di Martino produces more than 9,000 tons of pasta a day in 125 different shapes, made from 100 percent Italian durum wheat (low-priced Canadian wheat has been flooding Italy’s market). Its great chewy, non-sticky texture has been lauded by such organisations as Slow Food.
Dolce & Gabbana isn’t messing around with di Martino’s pasta recipe. It has designed the packaging for a handful of pasta shapes, along with that custom-designed apron. The engaging, limited-edition pasta wrappings are made for three shapes (spaghetti, the tubular paccheri, and penne mezzani rigate). The design features old-school southern Italian figures, such as a Sophia Loren-esque brunette holding a plate of tomato-sauced pasta, interspersed with brightly coloured tiles, and the tagline, "La Famiglia, La Pasta, e L'Italia!" (Translation: "Family, Pasta and Italy!”) Although the packaging evokes southern Italy, there are illustrations of landmarks from all over the country — including the Duomo of Milan, a Venetian canal, the Colosseum, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The tins will be available in Pasta Di Martino's stores in Naples and Bologna and at Harrods in London. (Later in 2018, downtown New York will get its own di Martino store; the company is planning a major American expansion.) In the US, the tins will be sold online starting November 15 at dimartinodolcegabbana.com and available in select stores including Buonitalia in Chelsea Market in New York. The tins retail for about $110.
This is just the first collaboration between the two independent Italian companies, according to Guiseppe di Martino, chief executive officer of the Pastifico di Martino and a fourth-generation pasta maker. “We have a two-year contract with them, but we have talked about 25,000 things, so this is just the beginning,” he says. “This is the first time ever in history that food and fashion have come together like this.” According to di Martino, his pasta will play a big part in D&G’s holiday display at Harrods.
Meanwhile, pasta has announced itself in Dolce & Gabbana campaigns for straight fashion and beauty. In its recent ad for The One fragrance, Emilia Clarke dances around, then sits down to a bowl of spaghetti. You can’t see the package, but that’s di Martino pasta that the Game of Thrones star is eating. (The pasta figures even more prominently in a video taken immediately after D&G’s Spring 2018 Milan fashion show.)
By Kate Krader; editor: Chris Rovzar.