“As a leader in your field, please tell us your all-time favourite cake commission?” Often there is no obvious answer to questions such as these…favourite cake…favourite technique but a favourite commission is another matter. I know exactly which commission this is…it’s my Paris catwalk fashion cakes.
Back in the early noughties, I was approached by a glossy London coffee table magazine, I believe called ‘Ten’. Would I be interested in producing a series of replica fashion accessories in sugar and cake to be styled and photographed for the magazine? As a handbag and shoe lover, how could I say No!
The Paris Catwalk fashion Cakes challenge
With the permission of a number of highly respected fashion designers such as Patrick Cox and Mui Mui, my task was to recreate eight fashion accessories hot off the Paris fashion week catwalk. I can’t begin to tell you how very thrilling and exciting I was when the couriered packages from Paris started arriving at my door.
Back in 2002, there were no commercially available moulds or shoe formers. I set about making each item from scratch from cake and sugarpaste. Each one a life-sized replica. Disappointingly the shoes and boots were all singles and size 3, so I never got to try any On!
For this photoshoot, we were working in a large completely white photographic studio in London, full of beautiful natural light. If I am not mistaken, the studio was high up in a converted industrial building. I remember despite all the windows we couldn’t see out, they were all covered with some kind of white filter. Looking back its interesting that, of all the studios I’ve ever had the privilege to work in and there have been many over the years, this was certainly the largest and most expansive.
Styling for the magazine
The styling of my work was simple yet effective. For many shots, it was just a matter of the stylist choosing a few appropriate accessories and setting the shot up on a white paper scoop for the photographer to shoot. For others, we spread props all over the floor and shot from above.
I remember at this particular shoot, the young stylist had a very clear idea of what she wanted to achieve. She wanted to make everything look clean yet edible, hence the bite out of the ‘ leather look bangle and the squirty cream inside the shoe. I must admit to being horrified when she squirted that cream!
The styling effect
I’ve been part of photoshoots now for over 20 years, yet it still amazes me how a photograph can change and enhance one of my creations. These handbag cakes and sugar shoes were no exception. Photos help set the mood of a piece. The squirty cream made the …shoe playful, the tape measure cake emphasises the petite and delicate nature of the MuiMui shoe.
In the years since these catwalk fashion cakes, I have made many cake handbags and sugar shoes. You can find examples in the cake decorating books and articles I’ve written. I’ve also created a range of handbag, shoe and other fashion-themed cake decorating products, all available from our online shop. However, nothing has ever quite come as close to the thrill, challenge and excitement of working on this Paris catwalk assignment.
‘Bringing world-class sugarcraft to your kitchen’