Ready To Wear: From beef to bananas, why foodie fashion is having a moment

If food and fashion appear to be – for myriad and obvious reasons – unlikely bedfellows, their relationship is currently enjoying what might not unreasonably be described as a moment.

First up: Lady Gaga's Argentinian beef dress. Despite the hype that has sprung up around this particular garment it is a not entirely original statement, having previously been made by not only Elsa Schiaparelli – whose lamb-chop hat was famously worn by the heiress Daisy Fellowes (there was also a lamb-chop jacket to match) – but also by Hussein Chalayan. In his days as an art student in the genteel seaside town of Leamington Spa, Chalayan used cuts of meat to create a not-so-genteel print. The gesture earned him a place at Central Saint Martins.

For the forthcoming spring/summer, meanwhile (and also for pudding?) the fashion follower might simply like to have a banana. Following her show in Milan last week, Miuccia Prada, the first lady of Italian fashion, stepped out to take her bow with two particularly fine and garish examples of that very fruit dangling from her earlobes where, more predictably, a pleasingly precious pair of vintage baubles might have been.

"I wanted to put them in the show," the designer said backstage. "But my assistant thought they weren't beautiful enough." A brave assistant indeed. Whatever, the accompanying print made the edit, a playful touch if ever there was one.

It was a reference to Josephine Baker, whose banana skirt was almost as famous as Chiquita, her pet leopard. Nor is Baker the only fashion icon to have held up a generally quite innocuous fruit for our perusal. An Andy Warhol banana print takes pride of place on the sleeve of The Velvet Underground & Nico. In the album cover's original incarnation, the skin could be peeled back to reveal the fruit (flesh-coloured – how rude!) beneath.

The auspicious history of the banana doesn't stop there. For spring/summer 2004, then Chloé designer Phoebe Philo printed bananas on to short shift dresses and T-shirts, safe in the knowledge that this is as sassy and saucy an image as the customer of that young, fashionable label could wish for.

And now they're back. Go bananas and don't even care.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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