When I was 16 my mother gave me a card for Christmas and inside it simply read “Are you Dazed & Confused?”… I was.  I was used to my annual subscription to Vogue and now I was being presented with a subscription to a low quality papered strange texted, gritty imaged magazine – but then something wonderful happened…

I read it, and I fell in love.  It is a love that has lasted, and like water off a ducks back, I rid myself of the glossy, Gucci clad girls of Vogue, and fell headfirst into the murky waters of Dazed and Confused.

If you love Dazed and Confused, go and see the show, if you have never heard of the magazine go and see the show.  Every so often a Creative duo comes along and changes the way we view fashion, art or music, Viktor & Rolf or Gilbert & George spring to mind, but in 1991 a creative duo came along and changed the face of editorial publications for good…those two men? Jefferson Hack and Rankin.  And the publication? Non other than Dazed & Confused.


This week, I was able to indulge in all things Dazed and Confused at Somerset House for the exhibition “20 Years of Dazed & Confused: Making it up as we go along” a celebration of the 20th anniversary of its launch. With the ice rink full of small screaming children, and the supersized Tiffany&Co box-come-shop spilling sequins and sparkles over the central square, it was a welcome delight to slip past all the chaos of Christmas and into the Terrace Rooms in the South Wing.

With 3 main rooms arranged roughly chronologically, the viewer is taken on a 20-year trip of ‘infamous visual stories, legendary photo-shoots, iconic covers, controversial editorial content and artwork from influential photographers, designers, and artists.’ Running like an angular time line throughout the three main rooms are several large L shaped structures, part mirrored, part covered in past editorials where viewers can tilt heads and reminisce over old copies they once read and recognize or ogle over those that are new to them.


Work on display includes landmark photography by Rankin (of course), Nick Knight, Terry Richardson and David Sims.  With all the work on display, it’s hard to pick out just one favorite, but for me, a few to take particular note of would be the series of seven huge portraits by Rankin; including Blondie, Kate Moss and the infamous ‘Fake’ Michael Jackson, which sent copies of Dazed flying off every shelf bought by miss-informed readers who didn’t pick up on Rankin’s subtle social comment on the overuse of digital enhancing which was being used in fashion around this time.  Controversial works such as ‘First Blood’, Photographed by Terry Richardson and Styled by Sabina Schreder, which one graced the pages of Dazed, showing models giving blood, to a magnitude of responses.  A raw set of images, entitled ‘The Sound of Silence’, ‘Suburbia Still quietly Pumping’ and ‘A Place To Be’, all photographed by Jack Webb, document a certain 90’s culture, including teenage pregnancy, homo-erotica and drug use.


In contrast, a poignant image stands alone on the far wall away from the otherwise hard-edged collection of works, it’s a huge black and white shot by Juergen Teller of Yves Saint Laurent backstage at his last show, he looks frail and almost haunted, but iconic in his magnified size

Radical fashion stories by stylists Alister Mackie, Nicola Formichetti, Katie Grand and Katy England grace the walls like a who’s who of the great British stylists of the 90’s and 00’s. A personal favourite from room 2 are the two photographs of Luke Worrall which sit side by side, but together made up the front cover of the August 2007 issue with the title ‘It’s not all Black and White’ shot by Mariano Vivanco and styled by Nicola Formichetti. Equally, the stunning images by Solve Sundsbo, of ‘London’s Youth’, styled by Nicola Formichetti, in room three are somewhat un-missable.



Unique selected designs by fashion legend Alexander McQueen are displayed in the final two rooms. Work, shot by Nick Knight, is shown digitally, mirrored and in darkness, and includes his groundbreaking ‘Fashion-Able’ showing physically disabled individuals modelling his designs, breaking down the walls the industry had built up about physical imperfections in fashion.


Curated by Jefferson Hack and Emma Reeves, this exhibition ties in with the release of the book (under the same name) and is open – and free – until January 29th 2012.  If you’re in London over Christmas, definitely head over to Somerset House as this really isn’t to be missed. So, for now my fashion-forward-friends, here’s to the next 20 years of Dazed & Confused!

Words: Holly Macnaghten


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