Monday, June 29, 2009

Paris salutes the King of Pop

comme des garcons SS10/AP via ONTD_Fashinfags

The fashion world is also mourning Michael Jackson – and not just opportunistic retailers such as Supré who are hopping onto the MJ tribute merchandise bandwagon. Two days before Jackson died, it was revealed that the costumes for his upcoming This Is It tour would be festooned with 300,000 Swarovski crystals. At Givenchy’s menswear show on Friday, Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci told The New York Times that he had been working on some of those costumes and that his show (which featured some embellishment) paid homage to Jackson. John Galliano was the first to add Jackson’s music to his soundtrack. Also on Friday, Australia’s Jethro Cave upstaged yet another SS10 menswear show with his personal styling - Comme des Garçons. Although Cave lost the Gumby earring that prompted commentary at Costume National in Milan earlier in the week, he lifted the sleeve of his jacket during one CDG exit to reveal the words 'RIP Smooth Criminal' scrawled on his forearm. The 'Thriller' finale of Paul Smith’s show which closed the season last night was all over Twitter when Smith emerged on the runway, dancing with his models (here is a video). Jackson had of course recently been rediscovered by the fashion industry.

Much was made of Jackson’s recent appearances in an embellished T-shirt, jacket and trousers from Balmain's most recent womenswear collections – and a similarly-glitzy Givenchy jacket from several seasons ago.

The Balmain/Givenchy connection reportedly came via a hookup between Jackson and French Vogue fashion director Emmanuelle Alt.

But while Jackson has been cited by more than one as the inspiration for the rock trash aesthetic of Christophe Decarnin's recent collections for Balmain, notably a series of influential embellished military jackets, it seems that Jackson himself may have been more than a little inspired by fashion.

Together with the sequinned white glove, the beaded socks and the red bomber jacket worn in Thriller, the heavily-embellished vintage-look naval/military jacket was one of Jackson’s signature looks.

On several occasions the LA Times has credited Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins as Jackson’s costumiers for the past 20 years, including this style obit from Friday.

bill whitten for michael jackson: (T) AP via daylife

Jackson may have worked with Bush and Tompkins in the latter part of his stage careeer, however the embellished military jackets that he wore to the 1984 Grammys and a series of other events in the 1980s – along with the original concept for the rhinestone glove – are widely attributed to Bill Whitten.

An LA-based costume designer, Whitten already worked with the Jackson 5 in the disco-infused 1970s, when the sibling group were performing in dazzling glitter stage outfits.

Here is one performance on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, which ran from 1971-1974 on CBS.

Jackson was of course not the first entertainment industry figure to make a style claim on the vintage-look military jacket.

In the 1960s, Jimi Hendrix's stage look included genuine antique naval jackets, while the high-colour versions sported by The Beatles on the cover of their 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club were authored by Mexican designer Manuel Cuevas.

adam ant/

But according to Stuart Goddard – aka Adam Ant - Jackson's jacket inspiration was more London New Romantic than Sixties psychedelia.

Goddard claims that shortly after the release of his Kings of the Wild Frontier album and videos from 1980-1981, he received a phone call from Jackson asking where he had sourced the heavily-embellished vintage naval jacket worn in the videos.

Goddard told Jackson that it came from the costume hire company Berman's and Nathan's in London's Covent Garden.

At the time the fashion and music scenes were heavily entwined in London.

However in case you are wondering if that makes Vivienne Westwood not only a godmother to punk, but also to the King of Pop, according to Goddard, the jacket was his own call.

Westwood's then creative partner, Malcolm McLaren, was the band's manager at the time.

In Goddard's autobiography, he claims that although McLaren suggested he wear something from Westwood’s debut collection, entitled Pirate (shown in March 1981 in London), Goddard declined, preferring to source the genuine article.

Trench wore fare

lanvin SS10/reuters via daylife

The mens Spring/Summer 2010 season is a matter of hours from wrapping up in Paris and the full-legged trouser that we highlighted on Friday has been omnipresent over the past three days. Providing a counterpoint to the season’s other big trouser storythe cropped pant – full-legged trousers have been seen in almost every collection. Lanvin added a high waist to its versions – with Clark Gable moustaches enhancing the '30s vibe. Another major SS10 trend seen at Lanvin: the lightweight trench coat. At Burberry, the trench is a trademark. But there have been many versions in Paris, including this putty-coloured trench (above ^) with contrast grosgrain piping. Jean Paul Gaultier also showed a piped trench on Thursday.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Supré hearts Michael Jackson

Well that was quick. The King of Pop has yet to be laid to rest - or plastinated performing the moonwalk, pending which reports you believe - but already today in Sydney, Australian highstreet chain Supré had an $18 'I (broken) <3 Michael' T front and centre at its Westfield Bondi Junction boutique. According to a Supré sales consultant the shirt was whipped up at lightning speed by a local supplier. Stand by for a raft of global Jackson tribute merchandise. After the shot was tweeted by frockwriter, Real Living magazine deputy ed Natalie Walton offered the following theory for Supré's turbo speed-to-market: "maybe leftover from Hutchence's death???"

Friday, June 26, 2009

Balenciaga rocks the male harem pant

balenciaga SS10/

If Milan was all about the cropped trouser, the nascent Paris menswear schedule – which kicked off on Wednesday night with the new YSL Homme collection – seems already preoccupied with its own headline trouser silhouette. Although the transparent and notably, sleeveless themes - the latter omnipresent in Milan - were dominant at Juun J and Hugo Boss, the bigger day one trend was the fuller pant. Seen at YSL Homme, Issey Miyake and Alexis Mabille, Balenciaga took it to the most extreme proportions. Seemingly a male version of the popular harem, dhoti or zouave pant, that continues to sweep the women's market, Balenciaga's interpretation verged on the Japanese men's hakama trouser.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Publish and be Dan


Did we say that Jethro 'Gumby' Cave was Australia's next top male model? Yep, we did, several times, thanks to Cave's ascendance in fashion's inner circles (Hedi Slimane, Nicola Formichetti et al). Well here is someone to give Cave a run for his money. An Antwerp-based Sydney expat, Dan Thawley has been modelling for two years, repped by Chic Management in Australia - and recently tipped as an up-and-coming international name. But Thawley's modelling has just taken a backseat to his burgeoning fashion journalism career. Thawley has his own fashion blog - Dan The Scout - and tells frockwriter he is currently directing all online content for A Blog curated by, that is attached to the Belgian fashion magazine A MAGAZINE curated by. Thawley will report on the Paris menswear shows over the next four days for no less than four outlets: his blog, A Blog curated by and the blogs of two fashion retailers, Antwerp's RA and Australia's ASSIN. (Apologies for the confusion: frockwriter reported earlier today that Thawley would be modelling in a series of Paris shows. This was a misunderstanding. Thawley is reporting on the shows, not modelling in them).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Indie mags lead the RUSSH to social media

It's fascinating to witness the pace at which some are diving into social media. Not surprisingly perhaps, when it comes to Australian fashion magazine publishing, it's the independents who are leading the way. Without the resources of massive online portals such as and, to which the biggest titles have access, the indies are thinking outside the square. Here is a video just-posted by RUSSH magazine on its day-old Tumblr blog. It's a "vidflip" of issue 29. The blog and Vimeo account are on top of Facebook (4,349 fans) and MySpace (10,538 friends) pages, as well as a Twitter feed (1,451 followers). Coincidentally, the launch of the RUSSH blog follows five days after a release from indie fashion rival, frankie, entitled, "Frankie doesn't freak out in face of new media".

In the press release, magazine retailer Sahil Merchant, from Mag Nation, talks up the title:

“Just think about how many people chat about a frankie article over coffee. The magazine becomes almost a social lubricant, which elevates it beyond a mere collection of words and images.

"The same cannot be said about lots of other magazines, which are simply content in print. These are the ones that don't get the new media environment we are in, and will ultimately disappear”.

The release also quotes frankie's social media chops: (37,287 unique visitors/month)
Facebook (17,760 fans)
MySpace (13,962 friends)
Twitter (4,600 followers)

That's on top of, the release notes, the magazine's 29,135 audited readers.

The Roberto Cavalli scuba pant - and the model who dropped 30 pounds to squeeze into it

robert cavalli uomo SS10/

Overnight, a number of key menswear collections showed up on the Milan SS10 runway. Among the trends of note, a glut of eye-popping red suits at Dirk Bikkembergs, Salvatore Ferragamo, Enrico Coveri and Trussardi. Plaid at Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs. And muscle shirts at Prada, Calvin Klein and Trussardi. And just as Sunday's Gucci show was reportedly inspired by '70s flick The Deep, Robert Cavalli came up with a a scuba-inspired collection, whose hero garment was a curious trouser with a high, foldover waistand that resembled a surfer’s wetsuit with the top rolled down. Frockwriter is dubbing it the scuba pant. But more interesting than the clothes was The New York Times revelation that top 22 year-old Arab American model A. J. Abualrub (pictured above and below, right) dropped 30 pounds (13.64 kilos) for the season.

Abualrub told NYT journalist Guy Trebay that his natural weight is closer to 200 pounds, that he sees a nutritionist, that it was a challenge to take the weight off - but that he wound up booking more Milan Fashion Week shows than he had anticipated.

Noted Abualrub:

“I only eat, like, maybe twice a day”.

There has been much talk over the past week about the shrinking sample size in the womens’ fashion market, with Alexandra Shulman and Kirstie Clements, the editors of the British and Australian editions of Vogue, lamenting the tiny sizes of womens' current fashion samples.

Frockwriter has two observations to make here.

Firstly, anecdotally, the average age of a female runway model would appear to be younger than it was 15 years ago. Up to a decade younger.

And furthemore, the past 15 years has also reportedly witnessed a reduction in the mens' sample size, as part of what has been referred to as "the Hedi Sliminization" of the mens' fashion market.

robert cavalli uomo SS10/

The creative director of YSL Rive Gauche Homme from 1997-1999 and then, notably, Christian Dior Homme, from 2000-2007, Hedi Slimane is credited with launching, among other silhouettes, the skinny jean trend which revolutionised both the menswear and womenswear markets.

Slimane's choice of ultra skinny models for his runway shows, and his muses - notably Brit rocker Pete Doherty, a longtime heroin user who pleaded guilty to heroin possession earlier this month - led to the widespread use of the term "heroin chic" to describe Slimane's aesthetic.

One might well ask just how much influence Slimane has wielded over the womens’ market in general.

As mentioned on this journalist's last blog Fully Chic last year, during one of several discussions about body image and model weight, over the past two years several reports have been published about the shrinking male sample size.

Here is one story from The Independent from February 2007, which mentions a book written by former male model, and recovered anorexic, Ron Saxon.

Here is another from The New York Times from November 2007, discussing the very fashion-obsessed Japanese market.

And here is yet another from February 2008, also from the NYT - and coincidentally also written by Guy Trebay.

Trebay began that February 2008 story with the following words:

“CREDIT Hedi Slimane or blame him”

In that story, Flaunt magazine’s Long Nguyen recounted that when he first entered the magazine business in 1994, the typical sample was an Italian 50. Six years later, reported Ngyen, it had shrunk to 48. By 2008, it was 46.

Nguyen told the NYT:

“At that point you might as well save money and just go over to the boy’s department”.

Model family

the selby

Just-posted on US home style blog The Selby: a glimpse into the Bondi backyard and life of Renaissance waif Emma Balfour, who recently reignited her modelling career at 40. And given the photogenic progeny produced by Ward and Andrew Cowen - their sons Bruno and Elliot - you have to ask if it's just a matter of time before we see a second generation of Balfours on the runway.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beau geste: Did the dog eat Versace's social media homework?

doug ordway for versace

Overnight Versace showed its SS10 menswear show in Milan. Inspired by the French Foreign Legion, the hallmark looks of the largely desert-toned collection were the safari suit, a series of loose djellabah shirts, many of them dip-dyed, and the now de rigueur manbag. In Versace’s case, this included both the megatote and the duffle bag, right down to small, square leather purses, worn belted at the hip. Below is a video of the collection from, once again, the good folk over at LA Times blogs. And just as well that someone had their eye on the social media ball at Versace, because in spite of the suggestion that Versace was “fully embracing the digital era”, including the promise of "doggie cam" - that's right, a camera-enabled pooch - Versace’s so-called exclusive live-streamed backstage access turned out to be rather confusing.

Is there anything at all on the Versace website? No.

Instead, there is a series of uncaptioned photos on the Twitter feed of Doug Ordway.

Who is that exactly? Ordway is a photographer who says he does a lot of work for Versace.

A few images of the hair & makeup stage were posted on Twitter prior to the show. The bulk of the images were however posted long after the show had wrapped - with no captions whatsoever.

Ordway also shot three maximum 30 second backstage videos backstage which also went up after the event (see below).

Another site called Ftape, which calls itself the "Ultimate Online Fashion Resource" - and whose connection to Versace is unclear – appeared charged with the role of promoting Ordway's coverage via its website and Twitter.

And at least Ftape has done a good job of aggregating all of Ordway's photos and video together in the one spot. But you had to really know what you were looking for to find it.

Perhaps the doggie-cam - and also touted model-cam - footage is to be used at some later date.

Memo to Versace: YouTube is not live-streaming video. Nor is uploading a gazillion photographs hours after the event.

It’s great that more and more fashion companies are interested in getting into social media and providing their audiences with content.

But try taking a leaf out of Dolce e Gabbana’s book.

Dolce e Gabbana manages to aggregate all its content under the Dolce e Gabbana umbrella.

The company does have a spinoff, magazine-style website - Swide - which pumps out a lot of exclusive content. Granted, the site has a rather baffling name - which, judging by its low Twitter follow count may confuse people. But at least Dolce e Gabbana is serious about social media and has dedicated resources to it.

And furthermore, of course, Dolce e Gabbana actually live-streams its runway shows to the net as they happen.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bottega Veneta rocks the cropped pant

Here is a just-posted video from the LA Times blogs of the Bottega Veneta SS10 menswear show in Milan, which took place four hours ago. It features one of the biggest early trends of the season, that has been seen in a number of collections, including Dolce e Gabbana, Missoni and the just-wrapped Gucci: the cropped trouser. See the complete Missoni and Gucci collections on

Jethro Cave's Gumby earring is apparently bigger than Costume National


First spotted dangling off the ear of Australia's next top male model Jethro Cave during a photoshoot for the top model industry blog Confessions of a Casting Director a fortnight ago, Cave's Gumby earring must have appealed to the stylists over at Italian brand Costume National. Because there it was, still on Cave as he walked the show overnight in Milan. Cave is second out in this video below. That said, it's hard to imagine a huge gob of Kelly green rubber being easily adapted to the vision of most luxury brands, so one wonders if there's a chance that Cave simply refused to cooperate? It's not like it went with anything else in the collection. As was observed by the good folk over at The New York Times, who seemed quite perplexed when they noted on Twitter: "An inexplicable Gumby earring hanging off the ear of a model at Costume National". Cave is of course the son of rock legend Nick Cave and has of late become well-connected in the fashion biz. So perhaps noone tells him to lose the Gumby.

The man clutch at Dolce e Gabbana

Yes the Spring/Summer 2010 menswear shows are off in Milan and thanks to a couple of social media-savvy brands that showed on day one – Dolce e Gabbana and Burberry – here is a closer look (just try a Google News search on Burberry, Dolce e Gabbana, Missoni, Jil Sander or any other brand which showed yesterday and see how much mainstream media coverage comes up right now - nada). Both Dolce e Gabbana and Burberry personally invited our buddy Bryanboy to see their shows and both companies very quickly provided images. Dolce e Gabbana deserves special mention for setting the social media agenda in the luxury world, by being the first major brand to live stream all its shows. Kollektor and frockwriter were among many to watch the company's show last night, the highlights of which – as we noted live – included compact clutch purses being carried by almost every model (who included Madonna squeeze Jesus Luz), glitzy jacquard smoking jackets over cropped trousers, bejewelled tuxedos, singlets with Marlon Brando graphics and a platoon of buffed muscle boys in heavily-distressed jeans (which, according to D&G's online alter-ego Swide, are lined in pyjama silk). More images after the jump. For complete coverage, from runway to backstage, head to Dolce e Gabbana’s website.

all images: Dolce e Gabbana

The canvas megatote at Burberry

As noted by Bryanboy from the trenches on day one of the Milan Spring/Summer 2010 menswear shows, it was hard to miss Burberry’s canvas megatotes overnight. Entitled “British town and country under British rain and sun” the collection also featured bondage-like straps on lightweight trenches in shower-proof waxed heritage cotton, waxed linen and waxed cotton canvas – the best in eye-popping ‘uniform red’ and ‘sou’wester yellow’ - cashmere gilets and cardigans and vintage cable knits. More pics after the jump.

all images: courtesy Burberry

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gaga for V

A sneak peek inside the engine room of a Lady Gaga fashion shoot, this just-posted video shows preparations and vignettes from an upcoming editorial in the 60th edition of edgy US fashion title V magazine. Styled by Nicola Formichetti, it was shot by Argentinian Sebastian Faena - who recently transformed Australians Catherine McNeil and Abbey Lee Kershaw into campy 60s horror heroines for another V editorial, entitled 'Hell's Bellas'.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hunter + Kollektor

Just wanted to draw your attention to a great new blog. Launched by Sydneysider Paul Hayes, it's called Kollektor and is designed as a repository for news about Australian artists, designers and thinkers. This is not Hayes’ first foray into blogging – he’s been dabbling with this Blogspot blog for a couple of years, in additional to Tumblr. But Kollektor has a slick magazine feel and with Hayes’ demonstrated (via Twitter) news foraging skills and taste for eclectica, frockwriter is betting this new blog could make waves - especially if he injects some of that rapier wit. A former film editor at ABC TV, production editor at Ad News and, from 2005 until a couple of weeks ago, the editor of News Limited’s City Weekly and ALIVE Sydney, Hayes is taking a year off to travel, contemplate his navel and blog/Tweet a great deal. Less well–known is the fact that Hayes spent over a decade as a drag artiste in Melbourne and latterly, Sydney, under the stage name of Miss Victoria Bitter. Miss VB to her intimates.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Carry On Pirelli: Kerr, Kershaw and McNeil rubber up for Terry Richardson via fashionologie

Last month much ado was made of the decision by Australian Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr to be photographed naked and chained to a tree on the cover of Australian Rolling Stone. Kerr, the face of the Australian Koala Foundation's 'No Tree, No Me' campaign, did it for the koalas, reportedly telling the magazine, “I feel strongly about the need to protect our natural environment because it supports our life -- it really is that simple". Well apparently the koalas have migrated to Brazil, because in a portfolio of images released overnight by Italian Vanity Fair, Kerr is naked again – along with two other topless compatriots, Catherine McNeil and Abbey Lee Kershaw, coincidentally all from Chic Management – posing nude in Brazil for Pirelli’s 2010 calendar. And the world’s most-famous girlie calendar takes on Carry On proportions this year, thanks to photographer Terry Richardson, who has made a career out of his risqué – and even sexually explicit – imagery. Warning NSFW.

The shots revealed so far of Kerr and Kershaw seem relatively demure compared with some others.

Notably, one shot of Hungarian Eniko Mihalik with Richardson, in which the pair appear to both be simulating fellatio with bananas. Another shows Brit Daisy Lowe standing next to Richardson whilst spraying herself with a hose - which is being held by Richardson just in front of his groin, suggesting the hose is his penis.

And moreover, the shot of Mcneil (above) standing in what appears to be a rubber plantation, whilst pouring a cup of of rubber milk down the front of her body.

Yes we all know what Richardson is implying the rubber milk could be.

The image is reminiscent of Richardson’s famous shot of South African model Josie Moran for Italian fashion brand Sisley, in which Moran simulates fellatio with a cow’s udder:

The heterosexual porn innuendo is interesting, given that by all accounts McNeil’s sexual preference is for women, not men.

But look, frockwriter is sure that all the models were paid a lot of money to do this calendar. And at the end of the day, apparently that's all that counts to the models and their agents.

Come Christmas however, Kerr might want to keep the calendar under wraps when she is due to unveil her new book aimed at motivating and inspiring teenagers.

Unless of course Kerr renames the book, which is currently called Treasure Yourself, as Pleasure Yourself.

all four images above: via fashionologie

Richardson likes to blur the boundaries between art and porn in his fashion imagery and he is paid handsomely by the industry to do so.

Richardson was paid $200,000 for one Lee Jeans campaign in Australia in 2006 - a campaign which caused a minor furore at the time.

But there is nothing soft porn about Richardson’s personal work, which includes explicit images of himself having sex with a variety of women, some of them reportedly his assistants, and some of them ostensibly aspiring models.

That’s all well and good and civil libertarians would argue that Richardson, a recovered heroin addict, is entitled to express his art in whatever means he likes. Provided of course the models he uses are over the age of 18. On his website, Richardson specifies that models need to be 18+.

Even Barack Obama appears to endorse Richardson, because here he is shaking the photographer's hand:

Frockwriter would hazard a guess that if Obama was fully apprised of the extent of Richardson's oeuvre, he would not want either of his daughters anywhere near Richardson.

High profile New York womens blog Jezebel recently published a link to a Guardian story about the new Picture Me documentary made by model Sarah Ziff.

The documentary recounts a number of alarming incidents. There are accounts of models as young as 14 being pressured into nudity on fashion shoots. One model claims she was sexually assaulted whilst working on a fashion shoot.

In a separate incident, Sena Cech tells the filmmaker she attended a casting session for which she was required to strip and then touch the genitals of an unnamed male photographer - who by that stage had also removed his clothes.

Cech says she did as she was asked and was subsequently offered the job, but turned it down. She was never offered work by the same photographer again.

It is not clear if Richardson was interviewed for, or is even mentioned in, the documentary.

However Jezebel chose to illustrate its story with a cropped version of this image of Richardson enjoying a hand-job. The provenance of the image is unclear. It may be part of Richardson's 2004 book/exhibition Terryworld (linked above).

Jezebel’s clarification noted that the image was used because Richardson himself had once glibly noted the following in a public domain interview:
"It's not who you know, it's who you blow. I don't have a hole in my jeans for nothing."

Many are no doubt wondering just who Sena Cech's unnamed photographer might be.

As indeed some are wondering if Sarah Ziff, who is now a fulltime student at Columbia University, could be yet another candidate for Jezebel’s anonymous model blogger Tatiana - who, coincidentally, penned that post.


But the Picture Me revelations may merely scratch the surface of a much wider problem in the fashion business.

Frockwriter recently raised questions over some unsettling imagery which appeared on the UK Ponystep website, involving a series of young male models in Calvin Klein underwear. The story was picked up by BlackBook and Jezebel.

We have since heard some disturbing allegations about precisely what some young male models claim they have been required to do on some major fashion jobs.

Just to clarify, none of these allegations involve Terry Richardson.

But they do involve at least one other high profile male photographer.

For the moment, noone is willing to go on the record.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cut-price Diesel

When the going gets tough, the tough cut prices - and we’re not just talking end-of-season sales. Today WWD reports that Dolce e Gabbana plans to cut prices from 10-20percent across both its main line and the D&G label. “This is the only way to save the market and our companies. It’s time to turn the page” Domenico Dolce tells WWD. Now frockwriter can reveal that another major Italian fashion player, Diesel, is planning to restructure its prices in Australia, shaving 27-47percent off the retail prices of its jeans in this market.

According to a Diesel spokesperson the entry level Matic (above) and Viker (below) styles, currently A$290, will be reduced by 31percent to $199, while the brand's most expensive jeans, currently A$940, will dive 47percent down to $500.

Fifty percent of Diesel’s Australian denim sales are in the $350-550 price bracket. From next month, those jeans will sell for $290-450 and from March 2010, $219-399.

The Diesel news follows one high profile Australian premium denim casualty - 18th Amendment. But also, curiously, new data from US analyst the NPD Group, suggesting that premium denim is one of the few pockets of growth in the difficult economic climate.

both pictures: courtesy diesel

Monday, June 15, 2009

Seventy thousand were nuked in Nagasaki. Now you can buy the T-shirt from Christopher Kane (L)
mushroom cloud over nagasaki/AP via

It has been a few days since frockwriter raised questions about the provenance of the mushroom cloud graphics in Christopher Kane’s Resort 2010 collection. Kane told the images depicted “nuclear test explosions from the '50s to the '70s” and were sourced from the “free public-access database” of the UK Ministry of Defence.

Frockwriter asked, did Kane require permission for commercial use of the images and if so, had the MOD licensed him to make a nuclear fashion statement? This might prove awkward, we noted, in light of the recent compensation case initiated by 1000 war veterans over radiation exposure incurred during the MOD's 1950s atomic tests.

Although the MOD confirmed a license would be required for the commercial use of its images, the organisation has yet to get back to us with any other information.

Meanwhile, Kane’s sister and business partner, Tammy Kane, told frockwriter there is no link to the Atomic Veterans Group case and that although the graphics were “inspired by the images on the MOD website”, no MOD images were used. The images were sourced, she added, from “more conventional picture sources”, with all necessary consents duly organised.

Why drag the MOD's name into it? No response.

Would she provide the real source? Not a chance.

Noted Tammy Kane, “We don’t intend to reveal the source of the images. We have enough problems with people copying our work without making it even easier for them”.

Unfortunately for the Kanes, you don't need to be a nuclear astrophysicist to track down some of the images. And one of these images has nothing to do with atomic tests.

Page one of a quick Google Image search under the term “mushroom cloud” yields two images which bear uncanny resemblances to those used in at least three garments from the collection.

Most notably, one black and white T-shirt is emblazoned with a mushroom cloud print that shares at least 30 commonalities with - and appears identical to - one of the best-known photographs of WWII (both pictured above ^).

The original image was taken on August 9, 1945, three minutes after the US Air Force dropped a 21 kiloton atomic bomb on the Japanese port town of Nagasaki, killing 40,000 people instantly, with an additional 30,000 estimated to have died from injuries and radiation exposure.

The Nagasaki blast, which prompted Japan’s surrender, came of course three days after an even more devastating US nuclear attack on Hiroshima, which killed 70,000 instantly and an estimated 200,000 within five years.

Here is the original image, credited to the US Air Force via Associated Press:


There are many reproductions of the Nagasaki image online. This one bears the closest resemblance to the image in the Kane print.

Wikimedia claims the photograph is in the public domain because it is a work of a US military or Department of Defense employee, taken/made during the course of an employee's official duties.

Frockwriter is curious just how well the T-shirt will fare in the Japanese market.

There are also many similarities between another historic image - this time taken during the Cold War - and a print on Kane's blue and yellow sheath dress which featured on page one of last week:

christopher kane Resort 2010/

The striking horizontal band of light in the middle of the cloud, the shapes of the smaller, darker clouds at the base and even the degradation of blues which appears at the top of the original image, depicting a mountain range - and which have been incorporated into the neckline of the dress - are identical.

The original image was taken on June 24th 1957 and shows the detonation of a 37 kiloton bomb called Priscilla at the Nevada Test Site, part of a series of US atomic tests called Operation Plumbob (aka Operation Plijmbbob) which were conducted between May and October that year.

Although in several places online a colourised version of the image is credited to Associated Press, the original source appears to be the United States Department of Energy. Wikimedia credits the photo to the National Nuclear Security Administration – a separate body that was created by US Congress in 2000 within the USDOE.


Acording to Wikimedia, this image is also in the public domain in the US.

Over two hundred thousand military personnel, workers and civilians are estimated to have been exposed to radiation as a result of US nuclear activities during WWII and the Cold War – with most of that exposure incurred in and around the Nevada Test Site.

In observance of the US government's role in the immediate, and potential longterm, health impacts of this radiation exposure, a raft of legislation has since been passed by US Congress, including the Veterans’ Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (1984), the Radiation-Exposed Veterans Compensation Act (1988) and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (1990).

Of his reasons for choosing the mushroom cloud prints for his Resort 2010 collection, Kane told

“I wanted something natural, but I'm so fed up with florals”.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Christopher Bailey, MBE

Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey is edging closer and closer to that Burberry Prorsum logo (a medieval knight on a horse). One hour ago, the Queen's 2009 birthday honours list was announced and Bailey, who joined the iconic British luxury house in 2001, has just been welcomed into the Order of the British Empire as a Member, for services to the British fashion industry. Bailey has a couple of rungs to go on the British order of chivalry before he is eligible to be knighted. But with a few more excellent Burberry collections under his belt, not to mention some more genius campaign casting, there may be no stopping him (well, unless he's a republican). Also just uploaded: a behind-the-scenes video of the making of Burberry's F/W 09/10 collection which stars Harry Potter star Emma Watson. The campaign was shot on the banks of the Thames in London, adjacent to Burberry's HQ, which is staffed by 800 across admin, design/photo studios and a cafe. The Watson get, and MBE, are good news for the 153 year-old company in the tough economic climate, which saw Burberry post a loss of 6 million pounds in the year ended March 31st. Also just awarded an MBE: Natalie Massenet, founder of e-tailer Net-à, which sells Burberry (among many other luxury brands) - but conversely experienced a 234percent profit hike in 2008.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Christopher Kane taps the British government to make a nuclear fashion statement

christopher kane Resort 2010/

You may recall the furore over Kate Sylvester’s use of war medals in the styling of her 2008 Rosemount Australian Fashion Show in Sydney. Well frockwriter can’t help wondering if Scottish fashion darling Christopher Kane might be heading down a similar path. Overnight, prominent fashion website gushed over images of Kane’s “first-ever pre-collection” on its homepage, complete with headline, “It’s the bomb”. The collection’s mushroom cloud graphics were sourced, at least according to - which is owned by Condé Nast, calls itself the online home of Vogue and is regarded as an authority, so we must assume that the details are correct - from “free public-access photos” on the UK Ministry of Defence website. Kane told the website, “I wanted something natural, but I'm so fed up with florals. And then I came across these images of nuclear test explosions from the fifties to the seventies on the Internet. I like the crazy-bright chemical colors. The way they're sinister—but beautiful". UPDATE 15/6: SEVENTY THOUSAND WERE NUKED IN NAGASAKI. NOW YOU CAN BUY THE T-SHIRT FROM CHRISTOPHER KANE.

screen grab/

On her collection review,’s senior fashion critic, Sarah Mower, a Brit, makes the following quip:

“The dresses in Christopher Kane's first-ever pre-collection radiate instant-appeal commerciality in just enough of a subversive way to be interesting”.

christopher kane Resort 2010/

There are potentially several problems with this. It is interesting that noone sought to clarify the details.

Firstly, if you decide to use images of nuclear testing to make some kind of artistic or political statement, why not get a designer to conjure up exclusive graphics? Kane makes no mention of a political statement, simply that he was jack of florals.

Secondly, there’s the issue of copyright. Here are the MOD's terms and conditions for the use of the images in its database:

“The material featured on this website is subject to Crown Copyright protection unless otherwise indicated. The material may be downloaded to file or printer for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study.

Any other proposed use of the material is subject to a copyright licence available from the Ministry of Defence in accordance with standard Crown Copyright licensing policy”.

Frockwriter was unable to locate the images which Kane claims to have used for the graphics in the MOD database. It's unclear if, due to the time frame, any British government images from the 1950s would be considered public domain.

Did Kane seek permission to use the images for commercial purposes or was he just "inspired" by them, in the same way that Shepherd Fairey was directly inspired by an Associated Press image of Barack Obama for Fairey's iconic HOPE poster of the 2008 US presidential campaign? The case became mired in controversy.

In the extremely unlikely scenario that the MOD in fact licensed Kane to reproduce military imagery to make nuclear war a fashion statement, a number of people would most likely have issues with this.

Starting with the Atomic Veterans Group: 1000 British, New Zealand, Fijian and Australian war veterans who, just last Friday, won a five-year battle to sue the British government for compensation over a raft of health problems which they claim are the direct result of exposure to radiation during the government’s atomic tests in the South Pacific and Australia between 1952 and 1958.

Although the majority of the group is British, it includes 200 New Zealanders, 180 Fijians and approximately 30 Australians.

The retired servicemen were among 25,000 forces who were exposed to the tests. Air and naval servicemen were, reportedly, ordered to pass close to the testing, with ground forces provided with scant protection.

Earlier hearings concluded that the British government and military administration of the day had withheld information about the dangers of the testing.

Don James, who was stationed on Christmas island during five tests in 1958, told The Guardian on Friday:

"We had no special kit. They just told us to turn your back to the blast and cover your eyes. You could see the bones in your fingers."

Friday’s High Court ruling has also greenlit the compensation claims of hundreds of other Australian, New Zealand and Fijian war veterans who participated in the testing program.

Update 11.00pm: Comment is being sought from both Kane and the UK Ministry of Defence, the latter nevertheless confirming that a license would definitely be required for use of the images. The MOD is looking into whether or not this was obtained by Kane.

Neil Sampson, a partner of the London-based Rosenblatt Solicitors, who has led the Atomic Veterans Group case, said he would be "astounded" to learn that the MOD licensed the images to Kane - or that Kane's use of the atomic test images at this time was coincidental.

"In June 2009, when the UK Ministry of Defence's role in the development of atomic warfare is on the front pages of newspapers throughout the world, it seems a little cynical" Sampson told frockwriter. "But I could ask, since when has advertising not been cynical and opportunistic?"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rachel Rutt cruises into New York

3.1 philip lim resort 09/

Well we told you that Rachel Rutt was Chic Management’s breakout star of Rosemount Australian Fashion Week 2009 and that she was New York-bound last month. Well just as Chic's hot RAFW 2008 ticket Myf Shepherd walked straight out of Sydney and into a couple of prominent collections in the 2009 Resort season, Rutt is off to a flying start. She was the only girl in WWD's slideshow showcase of the Resort 2010 collection of stellar New York name 3.1 Phillip Lim (while Sydney's Tallulah Morton was one of two girls booked by Lim for his own lookbook of the collection, as shown on Rutt was also booked by Doo.Ri for her Resort collection lookbook, with the images appearing on both WWD (below) and Frockwriter will take a bet this is just the beginning. Update 10/06: Rutt made's Of The Minute column today.

doo.ri resort 09/

Zambesi's speed racer

angie tinker

Frockwriter mentioned that Zambesi’s Neville Findlay is a rev head. Here’s a shot of the co-founder of the iconic Kiwi fashion label – which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – that was just snapped at the Taupo Motorsport Park for today's second and final round of the 2009 North Island Endurance Series, a four-hour race. Findlay qualified fifth. As you can see, Findlay has upgraded from his brother’s Datsun 260Z, that he raced in March, to what we understand is a very rare BMW ZM coupe. We also have it on good authority that Findlay and his wife/business partner and the head Zambesi designer, Liz Findlay, are making a real weekend of it – having booked the honeymoon suite at Lake Taupo’s luxury motor lodge Chantilly’s. Can a Zambesi-customised car be far away?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Creative Sydney: Advance Australia flair

candy bowers/flickr

Over the past fortnight I’ve been called a Fun, Fearless Female (thanks Cosmo), a Creative Catalyst (thanks Creative Sydney) and a c***face (thanks Tallulah Morton – who has since self-censored her MySpace page). And although I am still scratching my head over my inclusion on the inaugural Creative Catalysts list, I feel very honoured to have been ranked amongst such a creative coterie. I must admit, I did chuckle when I read that I had been accorded a nod for services including “...testing the limits of the online medium” – and consider it a vote of confidence in all the RAFW Twitter artists, and of course, the Bluralism movement. Last night, I had the great pleasure of taking part in a Creative Sydney panel event called Reaching the World, which included the following speakers.

Hip hop artists Candy Bowers and Morgan Lewis, textile designer Liz Casella from Karolina York, sustainable furniture designer Michael Alvisse from Schamburg + Alvisse and Kate Bezar, the founder and editor of the Dumbo feather, pass it on magazine.

For anyone unfamiliar with the latter title, the name refers to to the Walt Disney character Dumbo the circus elephant, who believed he needed a magic feather to fly.

Four times a year, Bezar publishes five 4,500-word interviews with people who have pursued their creative passions and dreams.

My favourite line of the evening came from Bowers, the first speaker, who has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but claims to have been told by one Australian television executive:

“Australian television isn’t ready for you yet”.

Having worked in Australian commercial television, I don’t doubt her for a moment.

Presumably what needs to happen for Bowers to get a mainstream media guernsey here is to first be discovered by an international network - and then return a star.

It's wonderful to see creativity being celebrated in Australia for once – and not just sport. I could have listened to the speakers for the entire evening and would highly recommend others make an effort to attend the remaining events.

Well done to organiser/panel moderator Jess Scully and the Creative Sydney team – not to mention the NSW government, which has funded the initiative.

It would be great to see an ongoing program like this roll out around Australia.

As noted by Scully in her signoff last night, let’s keep this conversation going people.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sydney’s Fashion and Film Festivals hook up for a nuclear Wintour

screen grab the september issue/

It premiered January 16th at Sundance and will be released in the US in September. But here’s a little incentive to attend next week’s launch of the 2009 Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival. Organiser IMG FASHION Asia Pacific has partnered up with the Sydney Film Festival and RSFF's somewhat genius launch party is the Australian premiere of RJ Cutler’s much-hyped Anna Wintour/US Vogue frockumentary, The September Issue. Details (subject to change): Thursday 11th June, 8.30pm red carpet, 9.15pm screening, 11.00pm afterparty. By invitation only (see IMG). By all means move at a glacial pace towards the RSVP hotline. You know how that thrills AW.

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