- The modern banana eater is best acquainted with the Cavendish, a berry believe it or not, rich in Vitamin B, C, manganese, potassium and fibre. Until the 1950’s, the Gros Michel was the cultivar à la mode, but despite its waxy encasement and nutritional punch, the ‘Big Mike’ was irreparably ravaged by Panama Disease, a fungus spread by the pathogen Fusarium oxysporum.
- Banana plants are genetically identical; but even with their Siamese sensibilities, the mushy Musa (its scientific name) has spawned a jungle of cultural signifiers. Its balance thwarting skin is an essential slapstick prop in Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim, 1923, and a vexation to all Mario Kart enthusiasts.
- The giant genetically-modified banana in Woody Allen’s The Sleeper,1973, is a symbol of futuristic farce, in Thomas Pynchon’s tome Gravity’s Rainbow, 1973, Capt. Geoffrey Prentice’s ‘Banana Breakfast’ is a delicacy of post-war promise, while Andy Warhol’s louche Peel Slowly and See album artwork for The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967, comprised of a banana skin sticker that when peeled, exposed a phallic powder pink fruit. Its curved shape and non-slip surface has even been used to argue the existence of god.
- Here, The Gourmand reveals the fruitful fashion history of slapstick’s greatest weapon.
Chloé, Spring Summer 2004
- While at the creative helm of Chloé, designer Phoebe Philo permeated her insouciant Spring Summer 2004 designs with hand drawn banana prints. Her taste for the tropics was inspired by a Vogue shoot the year before, styled by Bay Garnett, founder of the nineties anti-fashion mag Cheap Date, and shot by Juergen Teller. Garnett shot Kate Moss lounging beneath a bunk bed in a banana print tee picked up in a thrift store. Philo borrowed the tee from Garnett, and adorned teasing cut out swimsuits and crop tops with cartoonish banana prints the following summer.
Jean Paul Gaultier, Spring Summer 2010 Couture
- Some scholars believe it was the velvety banana, and not the mouth-watering apple that caused the fall of Man. In past times, bananas were commonly referred to as figs, and it is said that Adam and Eve covered their newly acknowledged nakedness with ‘fig’ leaves. Large in size, banana leaves can in fact be stripped, dried and sewn to make garments, and in ancient eras the Japanese used banana cloth to make kimonos. Jean Paul Gaultier explored this technique in his Spring Summer 2010 Couture Collection, constructing shoulder bags and tiny clutches using weaved leather fronds that resembled banana leaves.
Prada, Spring Summer 2011
- When Josephine Baker performed the energetic danse sauvage at the Folies Bergère in 1925, her banana skirt costume, constructed first in rubber, and then in sequinned silk, became a symbol of black exoticism. Dancing in Paris with the Harlem hailing dance troupe Le Revue Nègre, Baker’s flirtatious costume was echoed in Miuccia Prada’s Spring Summer 2011 collection. Banana prints adorned fluid ruffled skirts, and were juxtaposed against diversive reference points: striped and baroque print hospital scrub shirts, brilliant fur stoles and stacked espadrille creepers. This was a season for fruity motifs, and zesty citrus prints were seen at Moschino Cheap & Chic and Stella McCartney.
KENZO Autumn Winter 2013
- For its AW13 ad campaign, KENZO teamed up with the trippy team behind Toilet Paper magazine. Their surrealist imaginings saw Devon Aoki wearing Dali-esque shrimp sunglasses, models pinned next to butterflies and beetles on a dissecting mat, and a shiny shoe poised above a squishy slapstick-esque banana. “We swing between the Laurel and Hardy style and the Thelma and Louise mood: sometimes we manage to be comic, sometimes we cannot avoid being tragic,” explain the Toilet Paper team. “Just remember that in our dishes what looks tasty and yummy usually is also lethal… try at your own risk!”