Chocolate Fashion Show

lee-zalben-blog-iconThe Eleventh Annual New York Chocolate Show took place a few weeks ago – from Friday, November 7 to Sunday, November 9. For those of you that have never been to the show, it is a three-day chocolate free-for-all.

In previous years the show had been at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, but this year the show took place at Pier 94 at 54th Street and the West Side Highway. Among the forty or so companies exhibiting at this year’s show were some great New York-based chocolate companies, like Sweet Riot and Berkshire Bark, as well as some international favorites like Mary’s Chocolates from Japan and Lily O’Brien’s from Ireland. There were two culinary theaters with chefs demonstrating how to prepare different recipes made with chocolate, and samples galore. Why would we have a booth a Chocolate Show? Well nothing goes better with chocolate that peanut butter, right?

One of the highlights each year is the opening night gala featuring the Chocolate Fashion Show which pairs chefs and chocolatiers with designers to create edible, wearable, works of art.

This year, the theme of the show was Superheroes & Sci-Fi, and my good friend, Broadway costume designer Gregory Gale worked with pastry chef Richard Capizzi from Per Se to create this very revealing Barbarella dress.

Gregory Gale & Richard Capizzi’s Barbarella Dress

Gregory Gale & Richard Capizzi’s Barbarella Dress

Greg is an amazing designer, known for his character-driven designs. His Broadway credits include Urinetown!, The Wedding Singer, and most recently Cyrano de Bergerac starring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.

Back in 2006, Greg and I teamed up to create the “Cocktail Peanut Dress” for the Chocolate Fashion Show. Our dress was worn by Rebecca Holliday, who was featured on Season 2 of Project Runway and was runner-up Daniel Vosovic’s model. The dress was a big success and praised by many of the women at the show for being one of the more “wearable” creations on the runway that night. There’s so much to say about this dress, so I thought I’d just give you the commentary that was read as Rebecca walked down the runway:

The dress Greg & I worked on in 2006

The Cocktail Peanut Dress from 2006

Cocoa-dusted feathers make up the body of the dress, which is cinched with a shimmering gold chocolate encrusted sash, embellished with 787 peanuts, which is, coincidentally, exactly the number of peanuts it takes to make a 16 ounce jar of peanut butter.

The model is adorned with peanut and chocolate encrusted bracelets, and the look is finished with chocolate brown shoes and a chocolate headpiece embellished with gold-dusted peanuts. How sweet it is!

Greg and I had a lot of fun putting the dress together. We worked together on the chocolate part and I was in charge of embellishing the peanuts – some had gold leaf, some had glitter, and some were painted. I did it all after work and while I cleaned up as best I could, for weeks afterward everything that landed on my desk left with some kind of sparkle – the gang in the office thought it was hysterical!

If you’ve never been to the Chocolate Show, we hope to see you there next year – it’s a fun (and indulgent) way to spend the day!

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