I don't do much in the way of fashion coverage for the same reason I don't write much about food: so many other people do it much better than I ever could.
That said, I fully consider monkeys and cephalopods to be firmly on my beat - which brings me to the Prada 2011 s/s collection that debuted the other day in Milan. Now, as fashion is far from my usual subject around these parts, I understand that many of my readers will likely need maybe a tiny bit of background. The Prada family has owned a leather goods company in Italy since early in the 20th century. In 1978, current owner and family scion, Miuccia Prada inherited the family business. In one of those happy accidents, Ms. Prada turned out to be something of a visionary, turning her small, family run luggage business, into a fashion empire. Much like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, Christian Dior in the post-war years, and Yves Saint Laurent in the 60s and 70s, she managed to essentially change how women looked and dressed. Her clothing is relentlessly creative and interesting, ludicrously expensive and she is one of the very, very few designers currently working who pretty consistently comes up with stuff that can be called "new". Like anyone who is willing to take risks, she occasionally comes up with designs that seem, well, inexplicable. See the current 2011 spring/summer collection in which she references Baroque art and Josephine Baker. Sometimes printed on what look like hospital scrubs. See below:
And then my favorite - a sundress with a stylized illustration of Josephine Baker printed on it, but instead of bananas around her waist, there is an octopus.
Miuccia Prada has always been interesting to me because her designs seem to take the male gaze into pretty much zero consideration. Her clothes are often referred to as "intellectual", by which people mean "not sexy". And by and large, they aren't. It is often said about her designs that women love them and men don't get them, which is a vast over-simplification, but not entirely off base. Her house is very new, debuting its first ready-to-wear line in 1989. And she had a slide installed in her office which she uses to access to floor below.