At first sight: pretty. Second glance: loaded with visual aftershock. The dresses in Christopher Kane's first-ever pre-collection radiate instant-appeal commerciality in just enough of a subversive way to be interesting. "I wanted something natural, but I'm so fed up with florals," he explained in his London studio. "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."
The hyper-colored mushroom-cloud prints, sourced from free public-access photos on the U.K. Ministry of Defense Web site, are placed on innocent-looking suspended cutout baby-doll and georgette T-shirt dresses and some of Kane's signature soft biker jackets. "I wanted clean, sexy shapes that are quite easy to wear," he said. Most are short, but the newest-looking—possibly a direction for next season—is a mid-calf dress cleverly draped to catch the waist without clinging. The collection is further fleshed out with Kane's made-in-Scotland cashmeres, a "Shrapnel" organza dress decorated with grosgrain tabs that shimmy with movement, and crinkly washed leather jackets.
All this, in addition to a mega-successful new T-shirt line (the latest have the explosions in black and white), an expanded collection for Topshop timed to drop in September, and his avidly ordered Fall collection for Versus: Is there no limit to Kane's prodigious growth? Well, maybe. The wedges in these pictures aren't for sale. "We didn't have any shoes, so we cobbled them together ourselves with gaffer tape and whatnot in the studio," he admits. "But I liked it, sort of walking on clouds!"