By Danielle Ziri
Dazed and Confused is a magazine for people who are looking for something beyond the main-stream fashion publications, something edgier. In its pages, beauty is portrayed in a very nontraditional way, with tattoos and piercings proudly exposed in photographs. But calling Dazed and Confused a fashion magazine does not do it justice. it also covers art, music, literature and film.
The publication takes its name from the classic Led Zeppelin song “Dazed and Confused,” and as you flip through the pages, you find that its aesthetic feel pairs quite well with that of the english rock band, particularly in its visual approach—the magazine’s photography resembles shots taken with one of the Polaroid cameras that were popular in the 1980s. Dazed and Confused began in the early Nine- ties in the U.k., founded by a British photographer, John rankin waddell (known as rankin), and a culture writer, Jefferson hack. It was born as a limited-run foldout poster and then turned into a monthly publication, which is now distributed in more than forty countries. The magazine is known for having, throughout the years, kept a standard of high quality in the areas it covers, particularly in its photography. Photos are dispersed all through its pages, from small shots between columns of text to vivid two- page spreads. This pictorial emphasis proves to be advantageous when it is adapted to the digital version, available by subscription on the iPad.
For its July 2011 issue, the magazine exhibits a bold cover starring the singer Beyoncé knowles dressed in bright colors, holding a dripping ice cream cone. inside, twelve pages are ded- icated to an article about the star. This feature exemplifies what Dazed and Confused does best: marrying fash- ion photography to detailed narrative articles and demonstrating expertise in the fields of both music and fashion.
Big names like Beyoncé are in the minority in the magazine’s music coverage. Dazed and Confused likes to promote up-and-coming performers, or others rarely mentioned in the mainstream media. In that July 2011 issue, for instance, two pages are dedicated to vybz kartel, a Jamaican singer-songwriter, displaying tattoos and gold jewelry in his portrait. The magazine also organizes an event called the emerging artists award, in which, partnered with the shoe brand Converse, Dazed searches for “the best new U.k. artist.” This focus on unknown artists carries over to the magazine’s website, Dazed Digital, in its section called “rise.” The website is a busier version of the print maga- zine, so densely packed with article blurbs and pictures that it leaves online visitors not just dazed but also very confused by the overload. The print magazine, too, can leave the readers dazed and confused. The things the editors choose to cover and the tone they use make it appear as though a deep knowledge of the arts is needed to understand the publication’s content. This magazine’s avowed aim is to challenge its readers and create a “new generation of switched-on, intelligent, aware and influential individuals.”
That makes it stand out amid the crowd of culture magazines available in the international market, but catering to a narrow niche of people who are familiar with the style and content, and won’t be dazed and confused by it, seems like a risky way to achieve long-lasting success in the highly competitive magazine marketplace.