Chocolate meets fashion in France

Do you think chocolate and fashion don’t mix? Then you’ve never been to the annual chocolate fair held near Bordeaux, France, by the Gradignan Terre des Graves Kiwanis Club. 

Story by Fabienne April

What attracts an average of 6,000 attendees to an annual Kiwanis club event near Bordeaux, France? No, it’s not the area’s world-renowned wines. 

It’s a chocolate fair. 

Hosted by the Gradignan Terre des Graves Kiwanis Club, the fair has many of the features you might expect. For example, there are tasting booths where attendees can buy from local artisan chocolatiers. But there’s also something you might not expect: a fashion show where the models wear outfits made of chocolate! 

Ten chocolatiers create dresses for models who sashay down the catwalk to music individually chosen by the chocolatiers. As you can imagine, Kiwanians keep tight control on the air conditioning, so the clothes don’t melt amid all the activity and people. 

Patrick Artesi, past president of the Gradignan club and president of the chocolate fair, says his favorite part of the event is in the moments before the fashion show starts. Tension mounts. The music begins. And then, as the dresses appear, the audience explodes in “oohs” and “aahs” while camera flashes light up the stage. 

One couple that often attends the Paris chocolate fair told the Kiwanians that their chocolate dresses easily rival those in Paris. 

Fun for the kids
After requests from parents, the club recently created ways to keep kids engaged: a chocolate workshop and face painting. The workshop offers kids some interesting facts about chocolate — and an opportunity to create a chocolate lollipop with melted chocolate and edible decorations. 

The chocolate workshop was so popular this year that the club stretched the participant limit from 200 to 250. And there was still a waiting list, so the club plans to expand to 300 kids next year.

The ideas keep coming because club members observe the fair’s activities and brainstorm new ones. Possibilities for next year include a chocolate sculpture contest for chocolate apprentices — typically teenagers from 15 to 18.  

In the meantime, there’s the question of what happens to the chocolate dresses after the fair. The answer: They’re displayed in chocolatier boutiques, along with a certificate from the Gradignan Terre des Graves Kiwanis Club. And then they’re eventually eaten. 

As the saying goes: “Nine people out of ten like chocolate. The tenth person is lying.”

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