The origin of the word ‘perfect’ lies in the Latin perficere: to accomplish, to finish; literally per facere, to make or do completely. In English, it acquires the modern associations of flawlessness towards the end of the Middle Ages and eventually comes to denote an impossibly high ideal. But we prefer the challenge presented in its derivation: the idea of undertaking something and developing it to completion, working it till you’ve done it justice. That’s what we’ve endeavoured to do with Perfect: to take the format of the magazine and elevate it from a disposable paper commodity to a desirable object that satisfies the senses fully, through sound and touch as well as word and image. Not to make it perfect in the modern sense of the word, but to realise it as fully as possible.
That’s another word that has haunted the creation of this issue: possible. While we’ve been working on Perfect, the pandemic has made it impossible to plan anything. In such unpredictable times, we had very little idea of what we could actually accomplish till we tried. This issue has been such a work in progress, such an exercise in improvisation, that to label it our first risked setting an unrealistic limitation on what we might do next time – which is why this is issue zero. One thing we have learnt is not to restrict yourself by setting any predetermined limits on what might be possible. Audrey Hepburn said it best: ‘Nothing is impossible. The word itself says “I’m possible”.’
Similarly, the more we’ve looked at the word ‘perfect’, the more it has turned itself inside out. We’ve discussed what perfect means in the contemporary landscape endlessly. On our Instagram feed, we invited over a hundred image-makers to share what perfect means for them. The only conclusion we can reach is that there are as many definitions as there are people: the word is entirely subjective and open-ended. Nothing is imperfect. The word itself says ‘I’m perfect’. And if nothing is imperfect, everything is perfect.
For us, the binarism of perfect/imperfect collapsed under the weight of its own overloaded expectations some time ago. As Marc Jacobs says in Bridget Foley’s essay on what fashion means in 2021, ‘What has happened is that there is now a polar binary kind of thinking – you’re frivolous or you’re responsible. I don’t know when or why this has become such a binary thing. With every other issue, everybody talks about how wonderful it would be if collectively we thought in non-binary fashion and stopped labelling things.’ And as Marc has also been known to say: ‘We are Perfect as we are.’