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Salad dressing with style: inside Gucci’s first restaurant

Gucci Garden in Florence, Italy.
Gucci Garden in Florence, Italy. Photograph: Courtesy of Gucci

It is the age-old impasse presented by high fashion: how do you shift more stock while staying exclusive? Don’t ask Burberry. Fifteen years ago, it had the bright idea of selling affordable “gateway” pieces covered in its iconic check, only for the “wrong” sort of people to buy it, turning it mass, and supposedly alienating the label’s core customer base.

Still fashion has mouths to feed. And it could do worse than look to Gucci, possibly the most referenced label in modern fashion, which has launched a restaurant, posing a newer, more urgent question: is Gucci’s tortellini the new furry loafer?

This week saw the opening in Florence of the Gucci Osteria, an experiential restaurant overseen by three-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura, and housed within its misnomered Gucci Garden, a new six-room concept store (not garden) a stone’s throw from the Uffizi Gallery.

Here you can eat Gucci tortellini in parmesan sauce (€20), Gucci taka buns filled with pork belly and lacquered with balsamic and miso (€15), or Gucci tongue (€25). If you are homesick, try the Gucci scampi (€30). If you are skint, a side of sautéed Gucci spinach for sir (€10), or Gucci cappuccino with logo’d sugarcubes for the lady. While you can’t really take the food away, you can Instagram it, on pretty Gucci plates, which you can also buy afterwards, in the shop. No dish costs more than €30, which is pennies in Gucci currency.

Commercially, this is brilliant, because it is comparatively affordable. Harvard Business School calls these potential customers brand tourists – someone who values the brand, dips their toe in once, but doesn’t pretend to be part of the club. And since brands such as Gucci have made a success by having their fingers in the millennial pie, rolling out something as social media friendly as food is smart.

But is it gimmick or genius? Bottura is one of Italy’s most Italian chefs, a maverick, inspired by Thelonious Monk and a friend of Gucci CD, Alessandro Michele. Since you can only eat Gucci’s food in the Gucci Garden and only buy its plates in Florence, it is probably a bit of both. Because fashion people do, on occasion, eat. Especially when it is Gucci-endorsed.

This article titled "Salad dressing with style: inside Gucci’s first restaurant" was written by Morwenna Ferrier, for The Guardian on Wednesday 10 January 2018 06.24pm

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