ROME • The chiffon dress with the pasta print should have been the tip-off.
In September, iconoclastic Italian designer house Dolce & Gabbana sent a parade of food-oriented outfits down the runway at the Paris show for its Spring 2018 collection, including high-waisted, carrot-and-radish-printed pants; a ruffled dress emblazoned with cannoli; and a skirt printed with cans of tomatoes.
Turns out, Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have food on their minds these days. Specifically pasta.
This autumn, the duo partnered venerable Italian pastamaker Pastificio Di Martino to produce an extremely limited-edition tin of pastas and a Dolce & Gabbanadesigned apron.
Only 5,000 tins will be available worldwide and fewer than 1,000 of those will be available in the United States.
Di Martino has been in the pasta business since 1912 - its product was the first pasta to cross the Panama Canal. Its pastas are now available worldwide and account for annual revenue of more than US$163 million (S$222 million).
The family-owned company is based in Gragnano, Naples, a town known for the pedigree of its dried pasta. Di Martino produces more than 9,000 tonnes of pasta a day in 125 shapes, made from 100 per cent Italian durum wheat. Its chewy, non-sticky texture has been lauded by such organisations as Slow Food.
Dolce & Gabbana is not messing around with Di Martino's pasta recipe. It has designed the packaging for a handful of pasta shapes, along with the apron.
The engaging, limited-edition pasta wrappings are made for three shapes (spaghetti, the tubular paccheri and penne mezzani rigate).
The design features old-school southern Italian figures, such as a Sophia Loren-esque brunette holding a plate of tomato-sauced pasta, interspersed with brightly coloured tiles and the tagline La Famiglia, La Pasta, e L'Italia! (Family, Pasta and Italy!).
Although the packaging evokes southern Italy, there are illustrations of landmarks from all over the country - including the Duomo of Milan, a Venetian canal, the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The tins will be available in Di Martino's stores in Naples and Bologna and at Harrods in London.
Next year, downtown New York will get its own Di Martino store, with the company planning a major American expansion.
In the US, the tins will be sold online from Wednesday at dimartinodolcegabbana.com and be available in select stores, including Buonitalia in Chelsea Market in New York. The tins retail for about US$110.
This is just the first collaboration between the two Italian companies, according to Mr Guiseppe Di Martino, chief executive of Pastificio Di Martino and a fourth-generation pastamaker.
"We have a two-year contract with them, but we have talked about 25,000 things, so this is just the beginning," he said.
"This is the first time in history that food and fashion have come together like this."
According to Mr Di Martino, his pasta will play a big part in Dolce & Gabbana's holiday display at Harrods. Meanwhile, pasta has announced itself in the brand's campaigns for straight fashion and beauty. In its recent advertisement for The One fragrance, actress Emilia Clarke dances around, then sits down to a bowl of spaghetti.
You cannot see the package, but that is Di Martino pasta that the Game Of Thrones star is eating.