Typically, fashion designers collaborate with other companies in the design world—say, luxury car manufacturers and sneaker brands. So file this under a weird but cool fashion collaboration: Local designer Christopher Straub—well remembered for his appearance on Project Runway in 2009—was tapped by yogurt brand Yoplait to design the packaging for a limited-edition series of yogurt cups just in time for next month’s New York Fashion Week. That’s right—yogurt. It’s sort of a genius branding move on the part of Yoplait parent corporation General Mills, which is based out of Minneapolis.
Dubbed “The Yoplait Signature Collection,” the release includes Straub-designed packaging for six flavors and is already available exclusively at U.S. Target stores. The strawberry-flavored cup is said to be inspired by a red fringe dress designed by Straub, and the key lime cup takes after one of Straub’s sequin dress designs. The designer also created two original Yoplait-inspired dresses using only yogurt cups and lids, which will be unveiled at a Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week event on February 13 in New York.
I asked Straub my burning questions about the odd but intriguing pairing.
Designer Christopher Straub, courtesy yoplait
How did the collaboration come about? Did Yoplait reach out to you with the idea?
It was a chance meeting where we happened to be in the same room, and just chatting back and forth we realized we wanted to work together but didn’t know what it looked like yet. I was waiting on them to come up with a really great project. A year later, they asked me to redesign their packaging exclusively for Target as part of the Yoplait Signature Collection. And I said, I’d love to, of course. They said, okay cool, come to this meeting with some ideas. We ended up with the concept that was the most attention-grabbing on the shelf and the one that spoke the most to me. Each one is inspired by dresses that I’ve made with textural component, and kind of took this 3D thing to 2D.
Did you background designing your own patterns and graphics for your clothing line help a lot?
It’s kind of daunting, it’s like, this is a big deal—it’s going to represent the product. Definitely having done graphic designs for my own prints before, I felt comfortable designing different concepts, and it was sort of second nature. When we played around with a couple different styles and this was the most impactful and still true to the brand–and instantly recognizable: you know it’s blueberry, you know it’s key lime.
Yogurt and fashion aren’t a typical pairing. What do you think fashion—and your aesthetic specifically—have in common with something like yogurt?
We talked about how Yoplait is the least expensive yogurt on the shelf, but it doesn’t look like the least expensive. Like fashion, the highest end looking stuff doesn’t have to be the most expensive. So yes, we’re selling the base-level yogurt, but giving it a makeover to reinvigorate this part of the brand.
How did you come up with the different designs?
We took a look at six flavors and we started assigning them personalities by flavor: strawberry is fun and flirty, she has a lot of personality and is a risk-taker. That ended up being inspired by my red fringe dress and it was an easy visual tie-in with the fringe and red. For the Blueberry Patch flavor, blueberry is light and feminine and cool, so we did a sophisticated petal dress for her. She’s more feminine and more light-hearted, and that really comes through in the final design.
The Yoplait Signature Collection is available for a limited time exclusively at U.S. Target stores.
Christopher Straub’s original design inspiration for Yoplait’s Strawberry flavor
Christopher Straub’s original design inspiration for Yoplait’s Blueberry Patch
Christopher Straub’s original design inspiration for Yoplait’s Orange Crème
[Images courtesy Yoplait]