I remember going to birthday parties as a kid and being jealous of my friends’ cakes. They were colorful explosions of frosted dinosaurs or pink Barbie dolls, but all I ever ate for years and years were homemade carrot cakes. While I can lovingly admit my mother’s carrot cakes always tasted heavenly, they lacked the multicolored silliness of my friends’ enviable piles of baked goodness and icing.
Recently, I stumbled upon a series of photographs taken by Shannon Echlin featuring the most over-the-top, drool-inducing cakes baked by Toronto artist Corey Moranis. Corey’s unusual concept of combining cake and fashion immediately caught my attention as being the perfect combination of one of things that have marked my childhood years: being jealous of cakes, and a second: dressing up in costume. Every single one of her cakes is accompanied by a fancy outfit, and worn by a model who looks like they walked right out of the Sailor Moon's wide-eyed cartoon universe. Plus, Corey has Shannon’s magical eye to bring out the vibrancy of her fashionable cake styles. So with my heart pouring out cakey waves of nostalgia, I called Corey to talk frosting and fashion.
VICE: First off, how did you come up with the idea of making these incredible cakes and styling outfits to go along with them?
Corey:This is sort of a funny question to answer just because I don’t really remember how it happened. I collect a lot of things. I collect a lot of clothing. I’m crazy about matching different prints. Recently, I’ve been making cakes. It was sort of like “How can I make cakes more interesting?” For this project in particular, I really wanted to use all the toys that I’ve collected. I really like nostalgia and I really wanted to include all these things in the outfits, but I also wanted to include them in the cake. I was really anal about it. I really wanted the exact same thing on her that I wanted on the cake.
That sounds pretty tricky. How do you go about picking specific items of clothing for the outfits?
I made certain things for it so it could be more fun and I had a lot of stuff that I had collected, plus I bought certain things. A lot of the pieces are things that I’ve collected from my family. I’ll be like, this is my favorite piece of clothing or this is my grandmother’s or my grandfather’s and I really wanna use it. In the third outfit that Inez is wearing, we used my grandmother’s jacket that I’ve been obsessed with for years. I asked her if I could borrow it and she said, “you can just have it,” which is crazy! I used it on Inez as a skirt. I wrapped it around her. It’s really funny, we have pictures of her and I talking and her whole butt is showing.
Which one comes first, the cakes or the outfits?
It kinda goes both ways. I make really tall cakes, there’s lots of layers, so there’s gonna be a lot of layers in the clothing. I’m trying to match all of these different prints, so I’m trying to have a cake with many different layers of prints. Clearly there are limitations on what you can do with cake, so you have to change the outfit a bit. I like to play around with shapes and stuff… it’s a very long process.
Obviously, it’s not going to be perfect when you do it. You’re actually converting fabric into frosting. For example, I love plaid, but it’s such a weird thing to do with frosting. There’s no transparency, so it turns out very different. You can sort of weave, but you can’t have anything transparent unless you want to pour icing sugar water on top but that’s not gonna make a straight line. There’s a lot of restrictions.
This conversation is making me really hungry, do you eat the cakes after you’re done?
I try not to waste the food. Everything on it is edible, except that there are pompoms on one of the cakes. The photoshoot with Shannon was on New Years Eve, so people took them to New Year’s parties, I’ve had to throw a couple out. I’ve also done a couple of weird space cake collages, where I cut pieces out of the cake and photograph it. Then I have all these weird cakes that have chunks coming out of it and I try to make it look like nothing and to make it look like they’re spaceships from space.
You just curated this art show, fART (food+ART), with Inez Genereux, the model in the cake fashion photo series. What’s your interest in combining food and art?
Food brings people together. The show is just about junking out and having a good time. The idea was about being nostalgic of when you were a kid and went to the fair and had so much junk food that you wanted to throw up when you were on the rollercoaster. It’s about this overindulgence and excitement that you would feel about cotton candy when you were a kid. The whole thing is about being immersed in food and not feeling bad about having junk food. That’s the way it is now, let’s just celebrate it!
I have a lot of nice memories from my life that have to do with food. I’m not a pig! [laughs] I just think it can be a special thing. I studied psychology and when I was applying to work at a bakery, I wrote: “I know it’s weird that I don’t have any experience at all, but a cupcake can make you smile.” It’s so true! The simplest thing can make a difference in your shitty day.
I could use a cupcake or two right now! Thanks for your time.
Follow Steph on Twitter: @smvoyer