The Italian fashion house is bringing a whole new meaning to ‘designer dishes’
The chiffon dress with the pasta print should have been the tip-off. 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 US.

Di Martino has been in the pasta business since 1912; its product was the first pasta to cross the Panama Canal. Its pastas are now available worldwide and account for annual revenue of more than US$163 million ($222 million). In the US, they are 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 tonnes of pasta a day in 125 different shapes, made from 100% Italian durum wheat (lowpriced 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 is not 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. In the US, the tins will be sold online starting Nov 15 at dimartinodolcegabbana. com and available in select stores including Buon’Italia in Chelsea Market in New York. (Later in 2018, downtown New York will get its own di Martino store; the company is planning a major American expansion.) In London, the tins will adorn holiday windows at Harrods; Dolce & Gabbana is outfitting many of the displays. The tins retail for about US$110. For a preview of the apron, check out Stefano Gabbana’s Instagram feed.

This is just the first collaboration between the two independent Italian companies, according to Giuseppe di Martino, CEO of Pastificio di Martino and a fourth-generation pasta maker. He says that after the designers began incorporating food into their runway designs, they began looking for a partner for future culinary- focused projects, and found di Martino. “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 cannot see the package, but that is 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.) — Bloomberg LP

This article appeared in Issue 805 (Nov 13) of The Edge Singapore.

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