style.com (L) mushroom cloud over nagasaki/AP via nuclearfiles.org
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 Style.com 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 Style.com last week:
christopher kane Resort 2010/style.com
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.
USDOE via lucente.org
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 Style.com:
“I wanted something natural, but I'm so fed up with florals”.