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The dA-Zed of Dazed & Confused

Censorship issues, visually arresting social reportage and an address from President Bill Clinton, here’s a 26-point guide to 25 years of Dazed

To mark our 25th anniversary, over the next two weeks we’re opening up the pages of Dazed to bring you a curated edit of the best of our archive, from 1991 to 2016.

Dazed & Confused: a magazine born in the wake of Post-Thatcher Britain, and fathered by two students – Jefferson Hack and Rankin – who quite literally made up the rules as they went along. Our name couldn’t have been more apt. With a healthy disregard of the rules and an all-guns-blazing appetite for notoriety, it’s safe to say the past 25 years have been quite a ride. In celebration of our anniversary, here’s your definitive guide to Dazed – the club nights, the cover stars, and a few things you might not know...


Dazed has always had a close relationship with the arts. Original art editor Mark Sanders can be held responsible for some of the most groundbreaking early features – like causing an outrage with the fictional Bruce Louden (a self-mutilating performance artist whose graphic stunts proved too much for W.H.Smith), having the Chapman Brothers re-sit their GCSE art exam, or the time he got imprisoned in Damien Hirst’s house for a week before being granted an interview. Hirst would later join Barbara Kruger in designing covers for our 2006 issue, while the likes of Marc Quinn, Raymond Pettibon, David Shrigley, Peter Blake and more have produced special projects for the magazine, and Ai Wei Wei has fronted an issue. We even invited Instagram collage maverick @bessnyc4 to remix Kendall Jenner for her Winter 2014 cover.


Having met in college before working on the campus magazine together, when Hack and Rankin made the decision to go at it alone, they funded their creative endeavour by running club nights with names like Blow Up, Been There Seen It Done It, and High and Dry (though they did also accept a lump sum to start a record label, which never actually put out any music). While Blow Up was a house night held at Maximus in Leicester Square from 1992, High and Dry took place around the corner at Café de Paris. Making enough money to keep themselves (and the magazine) afloat for the first two years, once they stopped putting on regular club nights, the second Dazed office on Old Street became the venue for many an event.


The past 25 years of Dazed has seen covers which have shocked, entertained, set agendas and inspired for years to come. While Brit-pop icons Richard Ashcroft and Jarvis Cocker’s covers symbolised a significant moment in music back in the 90s, fashion icon Iris Apfel defined our November 2012 art issue in hers at the age of 91. Meanwhile, amusing throwbacks come in the shape of a made-up Michael Jackson impersonator (who people believed to be the King of Pop himself), a very retro Alicia Keys, a baby blue suited Justin Timberlake, and Gorillaz (as cartoons, obviously). Since then, many of today’s most talented creatives have taken the coveted spot, including Beyoncé, A$AP Rocky, Zayn Malik, Nicki Minaj and, of course, Azealia Banks blowing up a condom back for September 2012. One of the most memorable over the entire 25 years? The shiny silver Death of the Cover Star, a cover featuring... well, no one.


With Björk on the cover, issue 16 of Dazed marked the first time the magazine was put together by a guest editor – Paul Smith. The issue saw him interviewing Rei Kawakubo (about Disneyland, believe it or not), and the names that followed Smith included visionaries like Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Nicola Formichetti and Willy Vanderperre. Whilst McQueen’s first stint resulted in the creation of September 1998’s groundbreaking “Fashion-Able” issue, July 2009 saw Westwood interview leading independent scientist and environmental pioneer James Lovelock for her edited issue. Meanwhile in January 2009, Dazed opened its pages to the public, inviting the teens of the UK to guest edit what was titled The Teenage Takeover issue, complete with a portfolio of British youth shot by Hedi Slimane.


One phrase ran across our issues in the mid-late 00s – BE THE FIRST TO KNOW. If there’s one thing Dazed is known for it’s championing the emerging – whether that’s putting a then-unknown Chlöe Sevigny on the front page following her role in Larry Clark’s Kids or taking a chance and giving rising star FKA twigs her first cover. And then there’s the crop of designers, stylists, photographers and writers who have built reputations working with us. 


There’s a word for those involved in the magazine over our two-and-a-half-decades: Family. While the initial twosome soon evolved to include the likes of Sanders, Katie Grand, Katy England and Phil Poynter – Rankin’s 17-year-old assistant who became Dazed’s first photographic editor – and then Alister Mackie and Nicola Formichetti, many many more names have made Dazed what it is today. Spanning not just former staff members but our network of creative contributors, the Dazed family is one extended crew that, once you’re in, you’re in for life.


Remembering the famous “Fashion-Able” issue and how it sparked news coverage around the world, Jefferson Hack said that it was “the first time (he) really felt like we had gone international.” Aside from interviews, fashion editorials and covers that made a global impact, Dazed has also had both Korean and Japanese editions (with the former still running). There was even a 1000-copy prototype of Dazed Russia with model Sasha Pivovarova on the cover created in 2008.


In May 1997 Dazed made the headlines in a big way. Having become aware of a “grungy, anti-glamour” trend, President Bill Clinton made a public reference to Corinne Day’s photography in “England’s Dazed & Confused magazine” when passing comment on the influence of “heroin chic”. Concerned that the photographs associated with the aesthetic were corrupting the world’s youth, Clinton spoke out against the glorification of heroin. “It’s not creative, it’s destructive. It’s not beautiful, it’s ugly. And this is not about art; it’s about life and death. And glorifying death is not good for any society,” he said. Regardless of the context, Dazed was name-checked by the president of the most powerful country in the world.


Hunt down Issue 15 of Dazed and you’ll find the words, “If You Can’t Afford It, Steal It” stamped next to the barcode in lieu of a price, provoking yet another censorship-driven stockist debate that saw the issue pulled from the shelves of John Menzies and other reputable stockists.. Issue 16 was published with the following disclaimer: “We apologise to all newsagents and retail outlets that stock Dazed & Confused for the strap-line: "If you can't afford it, steal it" above the bar code of issue 15. Dazed & Confused in no way encourages theft or shoplifting. Remember: there is no service charge included, so feel free to tip your newsagent next time you buy Dazed & Confused”.


From the time the notorious art duo lent us their (subsequently destroyed) Mummy Chapman sculpture for a Dazed party, to the time they created surgical glove puppets filled with blood in order to re-enact the mutilations and deaths of famous artists for Dazed’s Renegade TV Gets Dazed TV show – Jake and Dinos Chapman’s work with Dazed has been as anarchic as the magazine. “Just knowing that this moment of madness was transmitted to the nation gives me a warm feeling inside,” says former art editor Mark Sanders of the latter. The brothers were an integral force in shaping the magazine’s early arts coverage, alongside Sanders himself.


Are you Dazed, Confused, or simply ampersand? Edited by Paul Smith, Issue 16 of the magazine was released in conjunction with a series of limited edition Dazed & Confused t-shirts designed by legendary artist Barbara Kruger. There were five variations on offer which you could mail in for – each featuring Kruger’s signature black, white and red graphics – and the t-shirts retailed at £15 each. Bargain. They were one of several runs of Dazed merch created in the 90s, now as rare as those first issues.


Marking Dazed’s 25th anniversary, the latest issue is our biggest to date. Featuring the likes of FKA twigs, Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss, Marilyn Manson, Pamela Anderson, and Willow Smith as cover stars, the issue celebrates radical creatives who are proud to be different. Meanwhile, Dazed Digital is bringing you a series of new and archive pieces to celebrate this landmark moment – from Mykki Blanco performing Zoe Leonard’s 1992 poem, “I Want A Dyke For President”, to Larry Clark giving his manifesto for not giving a fuck – read it all here.


As Jefferson Hack put it in Dazed’s 20th birthday issue in 2011, “We were really naïve and young and inexperienced, but in a way we didn’t care. We were arrogant little shits, but we were untrained by the industry, so what you see is an explosion of ideas”. Quite literally making it up as they went along, the book of the same name was released in October 2011 – to accompany a retrospective exhibition at London’s Somerset House – charts Dazed’s journey from its DIY beginnings as a fold out poster, to the fully-fledged style publication we are today.


Taking place at the Shiseido Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo in December 1998, No Sex Please, We're British was the magazine’s debut exhibition in an international art institution. Firm believers in extending the DIY mentality of the magazine far beyond the parameters of print media, the exhibition, which was curated by Mark Sanders, Phil Poynter, and Jefferson Hack, featured work by Dazed’s key contributors: Nick Knight, Sam Taylor-Wood, Jack Webb, and Nick Waplington, among others.


Having moved from an office in Soho (with Corinne Day upstairs) to Old Street, where Dazed still stands today. Here, the team found themselves with a lot more space which, according to Making It Up As We Go Along, they decided to use for, “exhibitions, installations, hanging, laughing, talking, thinking, drinking, smoking, lying, spying, socialising, buying, skiving, bitching and then trying something a little different.” In turn, the Dazed & Confused gallery became an extension of the magazine and the space predominantly housed the work of emerging artists and photographers.

“What Dazed & Confused has done is disgusting. It’s this sort of thing which could encourage some of these horrible murders” – April Ducksbury, former director of top modelling agency Models One


Shot by Donna Trope and styled by Katie Grand, Issue 14 featured an editorial titled “Preservation Vamp” that saw a peroxide blonde model, topless drinking a bottle of blood, licking a silver metal meat cleaver and on the phone while having an eye-lift, the latter of which is positioned next to a photograph of a raw steak and a pair of surgical clippers. Many people were outraged by this story. In the words of April Ducksbury, former director of top modelling agency Models One, “What Dazed & Confused has done is disgusting. It’s this sort of thing which could encourage some of these horrible murders.”


Something that’s instantly noticeable when flicking through 90s back issues of Dazed, are the explicit, provocative and sometimes pure outrageous adverts. From Sisley’s double page spread of a model milking a cow and squirting its milk directly into her mouth and Katherine Hamnett’s denim advert that sees a female on her knees undoing a man’s jeans with her teeth… to Firetrap’s cartoon sexual innuendos – each leaves you wondering how they possibly got past the Advertising Standards Agency’s checks.


It’s Dazed’s unflinching commitment to bringing an angle or a viewpoint to society that would never be published elsewhere that came to shape the magazine’s social reportage. From June 2011’s Global Activism Special issue that saw Ai Weiwei coin the “Age of Craziness” and The South Africa Issue that was dedicated to celebrating ten years since the end of the apartheid – multiple issues have attempted to define a cultural and political moment. Meanwhile, in April 2006, Dazed’s “Do The Red Thing” feature asked image makers from every discipline to send in red-related images to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, whilst the public were invited to send in images for a 24-hour live internet broadcast to commemorate world AIDS day following the release of the issue.


From 1997’s “Just Say Yes” TV advert, directed by Rankin that was struck down by censors before it had the chance to air, to 1998’s Renegade TV Gets Dazed, that saw one million viewers tune in to a two-hour Dazed takeover on Channel 4 – Dazed’s relationship with TV has been an interesting one. Other memorable TV moments include The Love Doctor – a modern-day love story set in Bradford, written by Jon Sen for BBC Films – and Gorillaz in Charts of Darkness – a 30-minute spoof documentary created exclusively for Channel 4 starring Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett.


When you think about the Death of the Cover Star issue in 1993 or August 1997’s Flesh For Fantasy cover that came with an “Instant Win Scratch and See” silver foil panel over a topless Helena Christensen – we’ve always never been very good at listening to the rules when it comes to covers. For our January 2004 issue, we teamed up with famed artist Peter Blake – best known for the artwork he created for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album – for The Illustrated Issue, in which every single page of the magazine was decorated with illustrations.


Over the past 25 years it’s safe to say that many an unexpected fashion editorial has found its way onto the pages of the magazine: from February 1999’s “Something In The Water” story – shot by Andrea Giacobbe and styled by Wendy Schecter – that saw mice run through clear glass pipes, a monkey performing, and a little girl standing fully clothed in a bath filled with water, to Issue 16’s “Backstage Toilets” editorial that featured models sat in toilet cubicles (and on the toilet) at Paris Fashion Week. A further unexpected moment came in Issue 37’s “Escape Into Fashion” story, in which there featured an X-ray image of a pair of handcuffed hands by Helmut Newton – his response when asked to submit an image around the theme of escape.


From the aforementioned Barbara Kruger and Damien Hirst covers in July 2006, to December 2000’s “One In Ten” editorial in the Altered Beauty issue that saw Nick Knight and Katy England team up to photograph women who had all undergone mastectomies for a lingerie story – many of Dazed’s visually arresting images have aimed to change people’s perceptions and to challenge stereotypes. Meanwhile Corinne Day’s image of a pair of bloody knickers on a stand-alone page taken from her GIRLS 1991-1997 series in Dazed’s September 1997 issue provoked negative feedback and saw the magazine removed from certain stockists.


While The Face and other style titles at the time were trying to dictate to the nation what was “cool”, Hack and Rankin took a different approach. As Rankin explains, “We never really wanted to be cool – it was about being significant or interesting; or trying to change things, and we talked so much about how we could do things differently; how can we approach this differently; how we can do an interview differently… That’s how you could get Thom Yorke interviewing himself, because we knew we had to do something with Thom that was different.”


Provocative and proud, over the last 25 years the pages and covers of Dazed have seen many X-rated editorials – from Kate Moss’s first Dazed cover in 1999 where she wore nothing except for a set of tie-up suspenders, to the time Alexander McQueen commissioned British photographer and long-term Dazed collaborator Jack Webb to go inside London’s permissive sex apartments for an editorial titled “Suburbia Still Quietly Pumping”. Other X-rated moments include 2007’s Sex Me Up issue that saw Liberty Ross take on the role of a PVC-clad dominatrix, 2012’s cover of Azealia Banks blowing up a condom, Eminem smoking a bong on the cover of Issue 66, 1995’s "No Entry" (a lingerie editorial shot from an up-skirt angle by Sean Ellis and Helena Saddler), and Issue 22’s “Waking Up With a Stranger” editorial shot by Phil Poynter and styled by Alister Mackie.


If there’s one thing that Dazed has done throughout the past 25 years, it’s try to support and nurture emerging talents from the fields of art, fashion, film, music and photography. But aside from helping discover and break new designers, musicians and actors, it’s also provided a platform where young people’s voices can be heard. From the cover of Issue 7 that features a child named Felina wearing a t-shirt that reads “TV is boring” and Issue 76’s "Year Zero" feature that asks kids from the age of 7-17 what they believe the future holds, to 2015’s #dazedgeneration project that called upon 18-22 year old Brits to post a selfie that said what they loved and hated about the UK, and the annual Dazed 100 that allows readers to rank our chosen creative pioneers – without youth culture, there would be no Dazed.


Dazed & Confused has always been about capturing the zeitgeist and this has been true since the beginning. “We wanted to call the magazine, ‘Did you ever get the feeling you are being cheated?’ But it didn’t really work on the masthead,” says Rankin. While Rankin often cites the magazine’s success as a case of "right place right time", it’s the people who came together to create Dazed & Confused and questioned the norms and constraints of fashion, music, art and publishing itself that can be credited for the success of the past 25 years.