Pin It
Dazed September 1998, August 2007, and autumn 2021
Dazed September 1998, August 2007, and autumn 2021

Still confused: designers, musicians, and artists regale 30 years of Dazed

From Charles Jeffrey and Val Garland, to Craig Green and Tommy Genesis, three decades of contributors reflect on their most defining Dazed memories

There were only four pages in the first issue of Dazed. One of which was an advert and another was a poster so, really, it was more of a pamphlet than a magazine. And yet it had the gall to declare itself as so much more. “This is not a magazine,” its tagline read, “this is not a conspiracy to force opinion into the subconscious of stylish young people. A synthetic leisure culture is developing – plastic people force fed on canned entertainment and designer food. This is urban ideas for creative people. People who want to read – something else”. 

Cobbled together in the hallways of the London College of Printing in 1991, Jefferson Hack, an 18-year-old journalism student, and Rankin Waddel, a 23-year-old photographer, soon decamped to Soho, where they paid for a cramped, makeshift studio by hosting notoriously hedonistic club nights. Situated opposite Pam Hogg’s shop and just below Corinne Day’s flat, the duo, now joined by stylist Katie Grand, found themselves enveloped in a frenetic arts scene, where fashion, music, and film coalesced to form something underground and anarchic. It was at the height of ecstasy culture, and it was there, peering into shoddy Soho windows and through the bowels of Leicester Square basement clubs, that Dazed’s collaborators first came together.

History will look back on these scrappy beginnings and reframe it as “DIY”, but it was also pandemonium. Back then, nobody at Dazed knew anyone remotely famous, so it was all leveraged through friends of friends, with deals brokered in East End pubs and on the back of cigarette packets. Nick Knight brought in Alexander McQueen. Some club-goer, who happened to work at Universal Records, booked cover stars like Beck, Bono, and Bowie. Then Björk called and said she wanted to be involved. Before long, the magazine became a lodestone for not just music and fashion but youth culture and politics more generally. And as much as Beyoncé, Kate Moss, Rihanna, and Billie Eilish have since fronted their own issues, it’s those ragtag avant-gardists which have remained at Dazed’s epicentre. 

As the magazine grew, attracting the emerging and the established, the mainstream and the subversive, it launched the careers of the industry’s most prolific journalists, photographers, stylists, and designers – all of whom have been memorialised in 30 Years Confused, a fat Rizzoli coffee table book. “Are you ready to be Dazed and Confused?” that very first issue pondered, which, in retrospect, was probably more of an internal reckoning than anything rhetorical, because we’ve been making it up as we go along ever since. From sloppy, drunken nights in Parisian hotel rooms, to boundary-breaking photoshoots, below, iconoclastic designers, artists, musicians, and writers put thirty years of Dazed into their own words.


“One of my first shoots for Dazed was a story with photographer Phil Poynter and stylist Katy England. Alistair Mackie was assisting her at the time too. It was shot in my garden in Kensal Rise as I had these lovely roses growing. In fact, we ended up using Katy’s bottom for the shoot – she wore a Gucci thong and I tanned the surrounding area to create a tan silhouette imprint when removed! I’ll always treasure the shoot with Nick Knight and Katy for Dazed’s September 1998 “Fashion-Able” issue, guest edited by Alexander McQueen. The shoot was boundary breaking for the time – physical disability and high fashion were not celebrated in mainstream media and Nick created these incredible, beautiful photos that embraced individuality. The cover featuring Paralympic Athlete Aimee Mullins is iconic. I’ve had amazing experiences working alongside all the up-and-coming fashion editors and photographers at Dazed. We were all the new bloods starting out, experimenting with an anything goes attitude. It was quite Warholian, there were no rules. Dazed is the now. Never stop showcasing new, raw talent, it’s about inspiring and nurturing the next generation, the future is now.”


“I remember seeing one of the very early issues of Dazed in the shop in the Cornerhouse, Manchester. I had no idea I would do magazines at that point, although in part, it was looking at Dazed that later crystallised the idea for me. I thought, ‘What the hell is that?’ I leafed through it and loved it instantly – but I had no money and couldn’t buy it. Typical. I was totally arrested by the ‘TV is Boring’ cover. It’s playful and confrontational at the same time. It had that real brattiness of Katie Grand and Rankin – I don’t think any of the other magazines at the time would have done it. I was always so impressed by anything that (former art editor) Mark Sanders did. Often Dazed was ahead of, and as weighty as, the ‘proper’ art publications. Yet at the same time it was an unashamed pop culture vehicle. At the peak of the fuss about them, I think he got Jake and Dinos Chapman to take their GCSE Art exam and then he put their coursework in the magazine. It was the kind of cunty thing you can only get away with when you really know your subjects and the subject. I can’t remember what grade they got.”


“I’ve been a fan of the magazine since my high school fashion blog, tumblr days. Then, about 5 years later, Dazed started to follow me and my Dazed 100 editorial is one of my favorite ever memories. It was my first time in print, my first time winning anything, the first time I felt like I was given recognition, and the first time I felt beautiful on set. People take me more seriously as a model now, I’m not just some “Instagram star” or “influencer” anymore. Dazed was one of the only magazines that appreciated me as a fat, Black, alternative model. When much of the fashion world pretends we aren’t here, Dazed showcases lots of Black, alternative creatives. I would LOVE to see more fat, Black, emo, and goth models in print. I’d love to still see myself, or other fat Black femmes, on the cover.”


“I first saw a copy of Dazed in 1995 when stylist Katie Grand brought the magazine into the Bricklayers Arms. Myself and Fee Doran, the high priestess of Shoreditch, managed the weekend shifts there until 1998. It was the first weekend rave pub in Shoreditch, so by default it was the Dazed crew’s go-to pub. Many, many early Dazed pages would have been incubated there. Then, I did my very first Noki show in the original Dazed space on Old Street. I had my Noki SOB masks hanging on poles like medieval beheadings, Mickey Mouse with his eyes cut out, and lots of gaffer tape paintings. Some of my favourite times involve working with Rankin and a tub of melting ice cream. It was on that shoot that I met my mate Judy Blame and I later worked with Katy England and Kim Howells, which helped me to curate the Fashion East x Dr Noki NHS show in 2008. Dazed has always supported the foundations of the zeitgeist to blossom into a plausible movement. And to top it all off, they put on some of the best 90s/00s parties that I can’t remember a drunken thing about!”


“Jefferson (Hack) recently recounted the time that he first set eyes on me. He seemingly took a shine as I passed by the window of the office on the way to my shop on Newburgh street. Apparently I blew him a kiss the second time I passed when he knocked on the window. He said that blew his mind. But all my encounters with Dazed have been magical, particularly in Paris, like in 2008 when I was asked to dress Beth Ditto for a shoot. We'd never met before and I was really excited. But the night before our arranged rendezvous, I headed to a friend's birthday party in some unknown hotel, and to my shock, it was Beth who opened the door! I immediately assumed I'd copied down the wrong address and had landed at Beth’s by mistake. Mortified, I stood there, aghast. And just as I was about to explain away the intrusion I heard my friend’s voice scream “Pammy! Lyndell (Mansfield), the birthday girl, had forgotten to mention that she was staying with Beth and had been booked as her hairdresser for the same shoot. A long, glorious night ensued and I reluctantly slipped away at around seven in the morning, only to return again three hours later. Armed with a shell of a gown and a box full of silk ribbons, I wove my way around Beth’s naked body that had dragged itself from the sheets just seconds before. Undaunted that she was near starkers, a journalist arrived for her pre-planned morning interview, which finished just as my last needle and thread attached to the dress like a bud.”


“Dazed wasn’t stocked in Sunderland in the early 00s, so I think the first time I saw the magazine was at the library of Central Saint Martins on Charing Cross Road. The librarians would fiercely guard all the latest editions behind the counter. The most memorable moment of working with Dazed was my first. I was invited down to a cover shoot by (former creative director) Nicola Formichetti and I brought my degree collection with me in huge laundry bags. Nicola said that one of the images we shot might be a cover option – it was between a Galliano outfit and one of mine. Quite a compliment, I thought. But I didn’t take it seriously until I went to the Dazed offices and saw I had made the cover. That was a massive moment. I remember being invited to be part of an incredible party and a huge mansion building in Belgravia. Designers were given spaces to set design, and it was me, Stella, and Hussein Chalayan. That was insane! I think that was the first big party me and all my friends didn’t have to blag our way into. For me, Dazed represents the ideology of the outsider.  It’s an incredibly important role to play and I think the responsibility of the role is well matched by the fearless creative team behind it. More of the same please! Always and forever.”


“My first memories of shooting for Dazed were with Daniel Sannwald who went on to become one of my best friends. We had free reign to shoot 10 different characters, including a fully-feline catwoman, to 12-year-old twins with black holes for faces. It’s still one of my favourite shoots. Likewise, launching Dazed Beauty in 2018 was one of the most important projects of my career and created some of my most memorable creations and collaborations. It’s had a huge impact on the trajectory of my work with beauty and technology. Dazed Beauty created new opportunities for those who are under-represented in the industry and offered a platform for a new approach to beauty to evolve. Dazed is the zeitgeist. Plus, it’s always nice to be surprised. And I feel like Dazed is good at doing that.”


“One of my earliest memories of Dazed was attending a fabulous party. I think it was just after Gareth Pugh’s graduate collection was on the cover. Gareth had installed some balloons as part of a set for this party where a handful of fashion designers each created their own world in a different room. I remember Björk being in the toilet and I was completely star struck. Then I had so many memorable moments working at Dazed. I used to write so there were a few incredible experiences interviewing people. I looked through Judy Blame’s archive in his living room, had tea with Bjork and Bernhard Willhelm in her kitchen, and talked to Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld in Tokyo. Then there were the shoots – Abbey Lee on horseback with Nick Knight in Gareth Pugh's breakthrough AW 2008 collection, and shooting Solange for the cover at Joni Mitchell’s former home in Jamaica, and for my first ever story I shot Christopher Kane’s debut collection with Matt Irwin. The day I started as an assistant to Nicola, I was terrified - I didn’t know what I was doing, but I remember so vividly how welcoming Cathy Edwards, the fashion director at Dazed, was. I’ve worked my way up through the ranks and I’m now at AnOther, so in a way (as cliche as it sounds) I count everyone I’ve worked with at Dazed among my family. The spirit of Dazed has stayed true to how it was in the beginning – we’re still just making it up as we go along. It remains a creative playground, taking risks, introducing talent, allowing people to grow, explore, and experiment in ways they couldn’t elsewhere. It has a rare mixture of kindness, trust, and support, which has hopefully allowed me to pass on the same to others in return.”


“Dazed is just really cool. I remember the first day of my foundation year at Central Saint Martins, I had the Gareth Pugh and Nick Knight cover stashed in my portfolio holder with all my drawings. London was so magical back then and the magazine really evoked the magic that was pulsing through the clubs and catwalks at the time. Take me back! The first time I was actually in Dazed it was a photo by Eloise Parry – I was with my friends Jenkin and Jermaine and just I remember being so, so thrilled at the idea of being in a magazine. It really took my breath away. Dazed sets such a great standard of fashion imagery which is so unique. The art direction, the styling, the world building. All of that inspires me. I hope it continues to champion diverse talent and to create a full 360 take on the world.”


“I can't quite remember what age I started reading Dazed, but I was definitely in primary school. My Grandad had a newsagent, so he used to order Dazed especially for me. I’m a bookworm so I’d read every single thing in the magazine and try to remember all the young designers’ names. I dreamed I’d be in the magazine one day. In January 2019, I did a big project with Dazed and adidas Originals in Paris. I was a part of the Makerlab and got to redesign adidas trainers and present my AW19 collection at Paris Fashion Week with support from Dazed. That really was a life changing and career changing moment, catapulting my brand onto the global stage. It was so incredible to present my work to Jefferson, Pharrell, and David Beckham. I am so grateful that the Dazed team took a chance on me. At the very beginning of my career, Dazed supported me by publishing an article about my graduate collection and my book, Sweet Lassi. People still refer to the article and say it’s the way they discovered my work. I'd be lying if I didn't say I would love to see some Ahluwalia on the cover! The future is collaborative and that’s something Dazed does so well.”


“It is really important to take risks creatively and to always try to push the boundaries as far as you can, something Dazed has always championed.”


“Dazed has this level of prestige. If the magazine writes about you then you’re the real deal, you’ve kinda been accepted into the cool gang. I don’t know why but two covers have been burnt into my brain: the red image of Thugger and the picture of FKA twigs with flowers blooming out of her mouth. I want to make the sickest cover one day, though. I think my first interaction with Dazed was an interview in the print magazine or the video we created where I worked as an intern for a day. Good people are always pleasant to work with and I just want to see more boundary-breaking and weirder stuff in the future! Dazed always knows before you do. That should be its new catchphrase.” 


“I remember audibly gasping when Dazed’s Grace Jones and Chris Cunningham editorial came out but I initially came across the magazine in the bathroom of the first house I moved into in London around 2004 or so. It was so sexy and provocative and pulled you so intimately into the worlds of its tribes. Dazed has been one of my biggest supporters over the years. So many people from the past generations of the Dazed team are still ones in my life. From Jefferson writing the foreword to my first book, to Juliette Larthe, and Ravi Amaratunga commissioning my first short films. I remember launching Dazed’s video platform with a week-long takeover, where we premiered a short film everyday. A year later we worked on a TV series together for a big US network but that was sadly killed for ‘excessive face-fucking’. Dazed is always changing, just like youth culture itself, and reflects the world around us.”


“Dazed was the magazine that made me a writer. It was 2006 and I’d just moved to London for college, but dropped out after two months so that I could rave full time, obviously. At one said rave I was talking to this woman – who I thought was just so intimidatingly cool – and she asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I was like, ‘I have no idea,’ and she said, ‘you should be a writer. You can intern for me at Dazed.’ I questioned the legitimacy of a magazine that would accept an editorial intern whose only writing experience was her college admissions essay, but that internship was the start of a long and beautiful romance. 

Dazed was totally instrumental in launching my career. It was the first publication to ever publish my work – I was writing 200-word articles about Dev Hynes and Florence and the Machine back in 2007, when everyone was basically still a fetus, and I remember thinking ‘I am a woman on the front lines, changing the face of music journalism!!’ I was delusional, but being in that creative and exciting environment – aka the cramped, smoke-filled Dazed office on Old Street, back when it was normal for everyone to chain smoke at their desks – was truly so inspiring. I may be slightly biased because I wrote the cover story, but I’ve always loved the Iris Apfel cover, shot by Robbie Spencer in Comme des Garcons, from 2012. It’s just so joyful. Plus, I’m always amazed when a photo can make me laugh out loud. As someone who grew up in the cultural black hole of a pre-social media small town America, Dazed completely changed my relationship with music, art, fashion, and photography. Like, before working at Dazed, I literally thought that being in an ‘indie band’ meant you were from India. Dazed enlightened me. It’s such an institution. It’s still where I go when I want to learn about the best, emerging new bands, designers, and photographers. Dazed has always had the gift of recognizing new and inspiring talent, which is why so many of us trust its judgement implicitly.”


“I hope Dazed will lead an eternal culture. I still can’t believe I won the Dazed 100 in 2018, it was such an honour for me. I first became a fan back in 2011 when I saw Robbie Spencer and Gary Card’s “Gold Digger” editorial, which pushed the concept of photography far beyond what I could ever imagine. I was only familiar with Korean and Japanese magazines back then, so it was literally from another world to me. Since my Givenchy cover, which we shot in Shanghai with my favourite photographer, Leslie Zhang, I’ve received so much contact from the fashion and entertainment industries – all over the world. Diverse and unique with its creativity, Dazed is one of the magazines that inspires me the most. It is its own culture.”


“Dazed showed me love before anyone else. I remember thinking, ‘holy shit someone cares about what I’m doing, this is insane’. I love how Dazed believes in and supports up-and-coming artists. Having you guys with me throughout my career really has given me so much confidence that what I'm doing matters. I remember the first time I shot for Dazed – it was in downtown LA and one of the first times I had ever been out there. It was so exciting for me. I still have this photo on my gram way back and it reminds me how far I came but also how blessed I was to have that support so early on. Whenever I'm interviewed by Dazed, you acknowledge my identity and craft – it's never general, always intimate. It has helped push me out into the world when I wasn't even aware people knew of me. I've always loved how the magazine dips into fashion, art, and the undercurrent of underground culture. Like the yellow eyeshadow Rihanna cover. It's just a cute iconic moment that I’ll always remember. Dazed is a brave testimony to artists and their art.”