Occasionally a hardback magazine comes along that challenges the notion of what the editors are trying to achieve: is it actually a book masquerading as a magazine? Fortunately for us, the latest issue of Cause & Effect is solidly in the magazine camp, using the hardback format to evoke sense-memories of those annuals that appeared under the Christmas tree when we were children, based on our favourite comic books or characters.
There’s nothing trivial about this magazine though. It’s multi-cultural British outlook grounds itself in the crossover between fashion and politics: where queer culture and non-binary expression meet, where street style is as legitimate as a magic-inspired highly styled photoshoot or the influences of Indian fashion designer Supriya Lele. It celebrates the weird and delightful avant-garde fashion of drag and performance art; indeed the theme of performance is overt in most of the photo features but also carries through to the more tender, meditative pieces on journeys of self discovery and acceptance, too.
The editors of Cause & Effect echo Joan Didion’s famous line ‘we tell ourselves stories in order to live’ in their editorial. They’re brutally open about the struggles of making a magazine through difficult personal circumstances, yet this has meant that the end product is a result of their labour of love and their passion for the stories of the people in it. Before the editorial (which is unusual) are several pages of interviews with activists across the LGBTQ, disability, immigration and reproductive rights spectrum, in a section entitled ‘The Cause / the Effect’. Putting these stories up front really highlights that the editors mean business with their intersectional politics and disrupts the concept of what a fashion magazine can be.
Loosely segmented into seasons (only three though, where’s Autumn?), the rest of the magazine has a sense of time passing, playing into its Annual format, and although it’s not clear whether you’re supposed to read the corresponding section as the seasons change, or whether it’s a record of the magazine’s progress through the year, it’s all tied together by a ‘choose your own adventure’ type story about grief.
It’s unusual for a fashion magazine to intercut jubilant photoshoots and phallus-lipstick collages – ostensibly always about people so fabulous they seem out of reach – with a sombre story in which ‘you’, the reader, are the protagonist, and it draws you in and through the pages. This is a moment in which the editorial concept comes to life: that queer culture and fashion and politics intermingle but the focus is on accessibility.
Editors: Amnah H Knight, Tom Rasmussen, Emily Carlton
Art director/design: William Knight