Dazed pays tribute to the visionary photographer – here, those that knew him share their memories
Last week saw the passing of fashion photographer Matt Irwin, a moment that was felt with great sadness here at Dazed. Matt began his career here, working as an editor on the front section of the magazine, contributing his photography under the reign of Nicola Formichetti, then creative director at Dazed, who gave him his first cover in 2007. Here, members of the Dazed family that knew and loved him share their memories of working together and talk about how he helped shape the aesthetic of an influential era at Dazed.
“Matt was an inspirational individual and an iconic fashion and celebrity photographer. He was part of the first generation of digital natives who alongside his friend and fashion director Nicola Formichetti helped usher in a new bold new aesthetic and direction for Dazed and then pop culture in the late 2000s.
“He was a pioneering artist whose infectious humour and charming personality won him many friends and admirers in the industry. All those who collaborated with him were touched by his generosity of spirit and the passion he had for image making. Matt transformed the world around him. I am deeply saddened to hear the news but I am also deeply humbled to have met and been able to work alongside such a talented and rare person as Matt.”
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Matt Irwin. We first met when I started as creative director at Dazed; I immediately brought on Matt for his electric energy and unique point of view. His youthful spirit was prominent in every image that he took. Apart from his talent, Matt was incredibly kind and made everyone around him feel comfortable. He will be missed.”
“My first ever shoot for Dazed was with Matt. We shot one picture of a new designer’s graduate collection – that designer was Christopher Kane and Matt really wanted to shoot it on a girl in her bedroom. It was beautiful and perfect. We went on to shoot many stories for the magazine together, it was energetic, fun, spontaneous and always full of laughter. Matt taught me so many things which have informed the way I work. He was the best person to learn from/with and thinking of those experiences will always make me feel happy. I will forever be grateful to Matt for bringing so much joy, fun and creativity into my life.”
“Everyone enjoyed Matt's company and his sense of humour was infectious – he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. We would literally laugh so much he would have to get his asthma inhaler out! I am completely devastated by his passing – it was just too soon. I feel proud to have called him my friend and lucky to have shared so many memories with him.
“Matt was far more than a fashion photographer, he managed to document a scene and youth movement. When we all started out, Matt always preferred shooting his friends rather than models and it has been really emotional looking back at photos from those early years. I think many of us feel that he captured the years when we were going into adulthood, at the start of our careers, trying to figure out who we were. Having him as a friend and mentor really shaped who I am now.
“He was one of the first people I met when I started working at Dazed in 2005. At the time, he was working on the CSM magazine Less Common and eventually came over to Dazed to start shooting for the magazine. Looking back over his early work, there is such a sense of nostalgia about those years. His images are a powerful documentation of the last big music related youth movement to come out of London. He managed to round up a group of like-minded creative people, a new generation of talent around him including stylists, photographers, musicians and actresses.
“He really opened the doors for our generation to break through and created a shift within the industry by the way he focused on shooting his generation of friends and working with people that inspire him. I think it’s really beautiful to see so many people sharing their memories of him online. It’s so incredibly sad that someone with such raw talent left us all too soon.”
“Matt and I became buddies on MySpace because he liked my radio show, Cobain in a Coma, with Liza Thorn. When he came to visit us in San Francisco we were instantly best friends. We had the same sense of humour and bonded a lot over music and the rock performers we hung around and who Matt would photograph. He always had a pervading interest in people who were ‘full on,’ or seemingly too out of control to function within a civilized society. Matt introduced me to the team at Dazed and that was how my career writing for magazines really began.
“Matt was sort of a perfect, magical being in my eyes. Everything he loved that seemed disparate — shoegaze, Hellraiser, the KLF, Chris Lilly, Hollyoaks, acid house, NASA, natural phenomena, 90s alternative rock, Masters of the Universe, Reebok classics, botany — all united into an aesthetic that made absolute total sense, only through his eyes. His photos that launched his career at Dazed remain some of my favorite fashion photos ever taken because they're honest and evocative of a time that was so formative in many of our lives: James in the kitchen dressed up in Gareth Pugh, Alice on the balcony in archive Mugler, Liza on the cross in Vivienne Westwood. Of course, my favorite memories of Matt are too defamatory to mention. Losing him is crushing and I am heartbroken. He changed my life forever and the best I can do is to live mine in the spirit of him.”
Everyone here at Dazed is touched by Matt’s passing, our thoughts are with all of his friends and all of his family. Rest in peace.