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On Page 316 of Smile i-D, there's a reprint of a two-page spread from i-D Magazine's December 1992 issue. The left page is empty, save for a black-and-white photo in the center of the page of a female model in a ripped white t-shirt. The page on the right is exactly the same, except for a similarly sized photograph of two vacuum cleaners. The spread is part of a piece on creating your own couture. But then again, we're talking about i-D here.
For over two decades, Britain's i-D has had a singular mission of documenting street style, coupled with an utterly innovative artistic vision. Smile i-D is a 600-page retrospective incorporating covers and spreads from the first 200 issues of the magazine. More than this, it's a consummate documentation of the past twenty years of cutting-edge style and culture. 24 years ago, Terry Jones, then Art Director at British Vogue, decided to abandon his post to document underground, "street" style, then an unheard-of concept. The result was the founding of i-D magazine. Taking a journalistic approach, i-D sought to document the spirit and style of the real world by using the streets of London as its canvas.
At times, people ended up in i-D just because they looked either hip, unique, or bizarre enough. More often than not, it was all three. As a result, every nascent trend of the past twenty years fell into the pages of i-D. Punks, mods, ravers, trustafarians, bikers, hip-hoppers, modern primitives, gearheads, drag queens, club kids, dominatrixes, skinheads, glam rockers, dreads, new wavers, and so on were documented equally with an utter disregard - almost a contempt -- of what the latest news from Milan or Paris was.Read more ›
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There's a passage in the introductory text written by former editor Dylan Jones that says: "i-D was the first street fashion magazine, a pick'n'mix grab-bag of punk fashion and DIY style, a pop-cultural sponge soaking up everything with inelegant haste." Very aptly put. And it's all symbolized with an iconic wink (or a gesture suggesting one) on the cover of every issue. Throughout the nearly 600 pages of this heavy, photo-packed book (which I happily made the time to survey, one page at a time, front to back), you'll see a maturation from a haphazardly compiled fanzine of punk fashion to a more polished journal of all that which is currently fashionable. No subtle difference, indeed. Black and white photos of random subjects sporting the latest in 80's leather, safety pins and spiked hair give way in the 90's to better-produced shots of more recognizable models and artists. I'm impressed that the raw, "immediate" flavor of the photography and design just gets better throughout i-D's first twenty years. There's not enough space to detail all the things I liked about this book, but I found especially interesting the early photos of some models and pop icons before they became widely known. I thought the numerous quotes by artists/actors/musicians added a good comical complement to the pictures. Also, the refinement (my opinion) of grahic design techinque is evident with the aging of i-D: it's not unlike looking at a scrapbook of an acne-ridden adolescent who grows into a hip and handsome young adult. Although i-D is somewhat new to me, it's now one of my favorite style publications. I wish I hadn't missed the first couple hundred issues, but I'm glad I got this book.
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