As publisher and director of Dazed Digital, Jefferson Hack oversees an editorial and media empire that now incorporates AnOther Magazine, Dazed Digital, AnOther Man, NOWNESS (funded by luxury conglomerate LVMH) as well as Dazed & Confused. On their website, Dazed Digital boasts global brands like Armani, Chanel, Nike, Swarovski and Dunhill as key clients. Given this, Dazed Digital is unequivocally embedded in the mainstream fashion system, making the political-sounding rhetoric and graphics of Hack’s latest offering We Can’t Do This Alone seem empty to say the least.
Nicole Phelps: We’ve had few failures that can compare to John Galliano’s recent one. I guess the best way to describe it is as a private failure committed in public. People hypothesised that LVMH weren’t sorry to get rid of him. His business had been stagnant for a while and at least from an editorial point of view he had peaked a long time ago. And now he has taken on another very visible job at Margiela, and he’s back on the stage. He failed, but he’s managed to come back.
In March 1997 thirty-nine people were found dead in a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California, an upscale suburb of San Diego. Between the night of the twenty-second and twenty-third, they took their lives in shifts, each group tidying up after the previous. First they drank a poisonous cocktail of barbiturates, vodka and applesauce; then they proceeded to tie plastic bags over their heads. The bodies were found lying on their backs with purple shrouds covering their faces, dressed in all-black uniforms and brand new Nike trainers. The uniform-like clothing made it impossible to distinguish between male and female bodies. In fact, it indicated that the body’s physical traits were perhaps irrelevant or undesirable. Five dollar bills and change were found in the shirt pockets, alongside identification. Next to them were rucksacks and bags with a change of clothes. The careful planning suggested that the act was of ritual nature; a farewell videotape confirmed that the bodies belonged to members of a millennial religious cult known as Heaven’s Gate.
Many are those who today speak of the necessity of a ‘fashion revolution.’ Certainly there are some fundamental issues in the way fashion currently functions; the pressure on brands (high and low) to distribute garment collections at a faster pace, the question mark over the role of fashion weeks in the current climate (and the fashion show as the optimal model for displaying clothes), and the flux that the role of the ‘creative director’ of high fashion brands is currently undergoing – not to mention the ethical concerns that have dogged the industry for decades. In T Magazine’s ‘These Two Guys Are Changing How We Think About Fashion,’ Alexander Fury talks obliquely about rules that need to be broken, and implicates ‘the editors, the designers, the corporations’ as the manufacturers of these rules. But if the fashion system at large is at fault, what role does Fury and T Magazine (the editors) alongside Michele and Gvasalia (the designers) of Gucci and Balenciaga (the corporations) play?
In his 1946 Theses Against Occultism, Adorno addressed the swiftness with which occultism, when translated onto the political stage, could provide fertile ground for exploitation. Nowhere is this evidenced more theatrically than in the political intrigues of Haitian dictator François Duvalier, who from his election in 1957 to his death in 1971 harnessed and exploited the magical thinking of the Haitian people by dressing and acting like Baron Samedi, the voudou god of the dead. Duvalier used fashion to make implicit what he did not say explicitly: that he was a god, the god, of Haiti – and as such, was entitled not only to unmitigated power, but to absolution, loyalty, and even affection.
I’ve been in the bridal business for twenty-two years now. My father is a farmer and a singer and we hail from the Howrah district in West Bengal. I initially began as an embroiderer for a small workshop and I trained for fourteen years under Miss Zeenat, a designer who had been in the business for decades. Soon after, her daughter became engaged, and I had the opportunity to design her wedding outfit: a powder pink Saree with silver Dabka work.
Have you any clothes to sell?
The years make a stain you can’t conceal,
Your fabric’s eaten, you discard
That part of your life for which you cared.
You pluck a thread from your cuff; it winces
Straight to your shoulder. Ambition grieves
In trunks and bags; moth-featured, minces
From closets, beating empty sleeves.