Come London Fashion Week, rolling-rack gridlock, wrinkled garments, and last-minute fitting woes will be the least of Emily Crane’s problems. Because the Kingston University fashion student is pioneering a new strain of edible couture, she’s more likely to fuss over temperature dials and vats of colored gelatin than wrestle with pins and garment tape. Even Crane’s choice of mentor is less than orthodox: Instead of rapping on the doors of London’s couture houses, she’s been holding tête-à-têtes with the chefs at The Fat Duck, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant owned by avant-garde food scientist Heston Blumenthal.
Crane’s work will be on display at Vauxhall Fashion Scout in Covent Garden on September 17 during London Fashion Week, but even the designer herself can’t be certain of what she’ll be showing. “I never know exactly what something is going to turn out like in advance because the processes are still very experimental,” she says.
Most of Crane’s garments are “grown” from a brew of gelatin, seaweed, and food dyes.
Most of Crane’s garments are “grown” from a brew of gelatin, seaweed, and food dyes. (While most of her cohorts were toiling in Kingston’s fashion studios, Crane was putzing with Petri dishes in a refrigerated trailer on her mother’s driveway.) Of her brainstorm sessions with The Fat Duck, Crane says: “It was fantastic. Once I’d explained what I was trying to do, pots and pans came flying out. Everyone chipped in, saying ‘try this,’ ‘taste this.’ and there was a frenzy of activity.”
Amateur chefs and do-it-yourselfers will someday be able to cook up their own raiment du jour. Crane plans to sell her designs in kit form. “People would be able to buy packs which would include everything they need to cultivate their own uniquely tailored outfits,” she says. Will dinner guests of the future eat their own Michelin-starred threads? “Why not?” Crane adds. “Let the banquet begin.”