Both Mariebelle founder Maribel Lieberman, and Chantal Coady, who established Rococo, the UK’s default high end chocolatier, have backgrounds in textiles. Lieberman grew up amidst the cacao fields of Honduras but moved to New York City to study fashion at Parsons. She segued into food ten years ago when she opened Maribelle in NoLita, selling chocolates emblazoned with fashion illustrations. ‘The images were based on my lifestyle in New York,’ she says. ‘The pistachio ones had hats and mannequins on, and the espresso one has a woman walking energetically in the street. When I first started it was very hard to put the graphics on the chocolates and I had them done in Europe. Now we do it in house, but it’s still very complex – each colour is its own layer, and takes 24 hours to dry. The lavender has five colours, so takes five days to do.’ Boxes at Mariebelle range from four pieces ($14) to 100 ($260).
The blue and white antiquarian literary illustrations on the packaging at Chantal Coady’s Rococo have become as classic as Coca Cola in many discerning households. This year, they redesigned 18 of the bars with a distinctively different look. ‘I was looking out of the window on to the Moroccan garden at our Motcomb Street store, staring at the patchwork of different colours in the tiling,’ recalls Coady. ‘I had a lightbulb moment.’ The result was a collection of bars with emotive colours and patterns, including spicy orange for chilli pepper and crystalline blue and white for sea salt. For Christmas, Rococo will be producing gift sets containing three bars (£14.50).