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New York Designers Favor Food Over Flowers as Decor for Spring 2020

Fruit, vegetables and bread baskets have replaced floral arrangements as the backdrop du jour.

Mansur Gavriel’s Fall 2019 presentation. Photo: Albert Urso/Getty Images

Floral arrangements have long been a mainstay at fashion week, with designers like Ulla Johnson and Jason Wu frequently employing massive flower installations as backdrops for their runway shows. And for brands more interested in creating clothing that could be described as “pretty” than “edgy” or “avant garde,” it’s easy to see why flowers — about as straightforwardly pretty as you can get — are such a popular choice.

But this season, a different kind of perishable decor is trending: food. And not just in a there-are-snacks-for-showgoers-tucked-into-a-corner kind of way. Instead, piles of food were used as colorful backdrops or cheery props that in some cases doubled as take-home favors for attendees.

At Rosie Assoulin, guests could build their own pickled vegetable concoction in a mason jar to take home, while Mansur Gavriel had oodles of fruit, from the mundane to the exotic, laid out on tables that models lounged against. Lela Rose‘s “Café Lela” runway setup had guests sitting in front of tables complete with bread baskets, and Tory Burch‘s show featured a spread of breakfast goodies. Susan Alexandra‘s riotous Bat Mitzvah presentation featured a cake that looked like one of her signature beaded bags.

Produce serving as a backdrop for Collina Strada’s Spring 2020 show. Photo: Chloe Horseman/Collina Strada

But perhaps the most meaningful employment of the food motif came from Collina Strada. Models at the Collina show strutted against a backdrop of fruit, vegetables and bread that was set up to look like a farmer’s market, but it wasn’t just about appearances — the produce was sourced via Local Roots, a community-supported agriculture project, and Misfits Market, which seeks to reduce food waste by offering discounts on “ugly” but perfectly edible produce that tends to get passed over when sold in traditional grocery stores.

Designer Hillary Taymour underscored the intent of this choice in her show notes, saying, “As the Amazon continues to burn, let’s reflect today on how we produce and consume our food.” The statement was couched between others noting how Taymour is trying to apply that same environmental conscientiousness to how she makes clothing.

Watch this space to see if food-as-decor continues to be a popular move in the other cities on the fashion calendar.

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