The Daze and Confusion of Cool

Dazed and Confused magazine has spent 20 years in the trenches of British subculture, providing access to the underground worlds of fashion, film, art and music. Co-founder Jefferson Hack has been called The Coolest Man in the World and his enigmatic partner goes by only Rankin. The party entitled Making It Up As We Go Along was held in London's Somerset House last week and housed an exhibition and book launch featuring images from the 20 year journey of Dazed and Confused. Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, Gareth Pugh, Juergen Teller, Amber Le Bon and many more of London's most glamorous showed up to honor the cultural institution. The magazine has prided itself on groundbreaking editorials, boundary pushing photography and always managing to dig up even the most remote of societal rumblings and subcultures. Arriving on the scene in 1991 in pre-tech London, Dazed allowed readers entree to a corner of the fashion world that was disconnected from consumerism. It focused on the elements of fashion that scare people: the new, the undiscovered and most of all the unverified. Let's briefly examine how we define something "cool." There are two ways to approach this definition. By the way, before we get into this can I just say how difficult it is to discuss "cool" without sounding like a total tool? It's hard ok. ANYWAY. The way we see it there are two answers. To most people cool means something is socially acceptable, verified by trusted sources and popular. But to some, cool means new, different and possessing a unique perspective. People who use the latter definition are either Dazed readers...or really need to pick up an issue. For them, cool is pushing boundaries, exploring new ideas and staying far, far away from the status quo. Which, of course, in turn scares the hell out of the status quo. So does this: Dazed survived all this time by never relying on the popular cool. They've helped to bring attention to both the unknown, Dazed was among the first to start the discussion on Tyler the Creator and the rest of the Odd Future gang, and the terminally uncool - do you think it was sexy to be unweight, greasy and accessorizing every look with a pair of dark circles before heroin chic? This definitely helps to shed some light on the reputation Dazed has outside of it's loyal followers - take the Guardian readers for example. They were furious that coverage of this event made first page press. One reader commented, "British style mags are fucking vile alienating drivel." Everything we've discussed thus far about the two sides of "cool" are contained in this one short comment. The anger of being left out, the trivializing effect of the word "drivel," and above all else the use of the word alienating. It seems that as much as the "outsiders" feel alienated from popular society, those within the popular sect feel just as excluded. The comments range from calling Hack a "ripoff artiste," although never explain who exactly he is ripping off, to attacking the magazine as a whole, calling it "pretentious fashion pap for empty, soulless hipsters and twats." Then there is this, the true belle of the hate fest ball: yeah they do steal others ideas and etc.. yeah they are super uncool yeah they are the worst side of the self indulgent promo folklore that England is know about since they went out as cultural colonisers as the land of the Cool Beatles I tell you who buys Dazed.. young confused pretentious kids from all over the planet.. I can see them now walking down the road of Kingsland ( Hoxton) like a procession of wrong hipe followers zombies Dazed and Co have collaborated to the co-option of anything that once meant Coolness ... just hope //wish people will wake up and never buy a single issue any more..but then again is like asking a bunch of turist to not eat a terrible bad cooked Paella and sickening Sangria at the worst bar in Las Ramblas of Barcelona... its all simulacra of Cool ... its all Pose and Fake..but it sales because there has been such powerful past about Britain as producer of Cool that more or less we all have romantic expectations about a cool mag from London a cool band from Scotland or Manchester etc etc... and a cool fashion designer...or stilist .. Just wish Some One will really really publish a real cool magazine for once!! we need them!! As hostile and accusatory as the detractors on the Guardian continue to be, it cannot be said that Dazed doesn't keep them talking... //click images for source