Minimal or traditional: Christmas confectionery on display
We spent an afternoon strolling around Milan, which many now think of as the gastronomic (and not just the fashion and design) capital of Italy, to get a sense of this year’s trends in the run-up to Christmas, and to find out which the most fashionable pastry shops are right now. An unscientific survey certainly, but one that offers a snapshot of what there is on offer.
Basically, we can say that there are two main pastry shop trends for the end-of-year festivities: extreme minimalism and utter opulence, the latter inspired to a very large extent by the traditional idea of Christmas, with cake design featuring prominently in many cases. Geometrically-designed panettones set against a simple row of yellow lights is the choice for boho-chic Pavé, a Milan locale famous for its breakfasts that is now offering what has been judged to be one of the best artisanal panettones in the city. Meanwhile, Armani’s shop window has cylinders of red silk arranged to form a stylised Christmas tree containing the coolest confection of the year. Marchesi, the historic Milanese patisserie taken over by Prada and now with three locations, has also gone for a minimalist look, while also displaying magnificent, positively regal panettones and pandoros glazed in white and gold.
Christmas is traditionally a time of plenty and shop windows have been decked out with goodies galore, with all manner of yuletide treats jostling for position to get themselves noticed. Gold and red are the dominant colours, but some windows have taken a “themed” approach, with cake design masterpieces recreating nativity scenes and winter wonderlands.
Many have based their designs around the idea of the tree: Knam has been doing it for years, and this year Ladouré has decorated its entire window with red and green macaron-trees set on a cake with white icing.
The Noberasco store has recreated a kind of 19th-century funfair, an idea also used by Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
But in every window there is a panettone, which is undoubtedly the big confectionery concept for 2017. The Milanese Christmas speciality par excellence is presented in luxury boxes or wrapped in different colours (as Peck has done) or just in a see-through bag showing what’s inside, a choice made by that other historic Milan shop, Galli.