Hers is a life of front rows, famous friends and rock-star romances. Yet also kitchen malfunctions, Starbucks meltdowns and, er, cagoules. And she unveils her new fashion line.
When I meet Alexa Chung, she’s doing an involved impression of a “posh mum”, dressed in a fur coat over boyfriend jeans, laden with bags, clutching a takeaway coffee cup and wailing, “Darling! Hurry up! Mummy’s going to be late!” Chung, 31, has got a gift for entertaining twaddle. A week before, I watched her present her new collection for the US denim label AG (Alexa Chung for AG) to the British style press, which proved to be a rare meeting of fashion and comedy. The debut line (spring 2015) has been a serious success, but Chung has not become some earnest fashion diva. She retains her eye-rolling approach to all things, and the incessant flow of daftness and self-deprecating commentary. She is verbally riffing on anything from lip balm to the joy of Agas. She’s got one in her London flat. “I like sitting between the hot plates,” she tells me. “It’s very relaxing.”
The range was meant to be inspired by American girl gangs, but Chung is so quintessentially British that she kept adding corduroy. “I just can’t help myself. Even if I’m in California trying to do a girl-gang collection, I want to make things that are weather appropriate [for the UK]. I can’t throw caution to the wind without putting a cagoule on.”
"Everything doesn’t have to be perfect."The collection is paving the way for the arrival of a new stand-alone fashion label by Chung. “Yeah, I’m going to do it,” she says. “It seems scary. But everything else has been scary, in hindsight. It’s just that I didn’t have time to think about it. I need to revisit that attitude and get on with it. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, I’ve realised. You can learn as you go.”
The way Chung sees it, she would have ended up as a designer or creative director anyway. Born in Hampshire, the daughter of a Chinese-English graphic designer father and an English mother, she grew up hearing about pitching and developing and picked up references to everyone from Picasso to Celia Birtwell.
New York is her home of six years. “I’ve honestly forgotten why I live in New York,” she says. “I moved there originally because I did an MTV show. I loved the fast pace. You’re spoilt in New York, you can get anything you want. I was running on adrenalin for years, but lately I’ve just felt exhausted by it. I had a meltdown in Starbucks the other day because they didn’t know how to make an English Breakfast tea. He was like [puts on an upbeat Starbucks voice], 'Here is your English Breakfast latte!’ and I was like, 'I can’t take it any more!’”
Perfect Life - on Instagram
Then again, she adds: "I’m not over New York, but I think rather than going out seven nights a week, I need to stay in sometimes. Make dinner.” Has she ever done that? “Make dinner? Yeah, loads! It happens every few years. I’ll have a few years of being a bit of a wife and then... I’ve just got my New York kitchen renovated, though. I knocked the wall down, got it all done, had a party to celebrate... and I still haven’t turned the oven on.” Party, party, party. Fashion, fashion, fashion. That’s the Alexa we see. “Yes, I am lucky. I know I am. Every time I call my mum, she’s always like, 'Remember how lucky you are, Alexa!’ But the thing is, I live in the East Village and my apartment is nothing crazy. The night-time invitations are fancy-pants, but I’m like Cinderella and at the end of the night I have lost a shoe and I am going home in a pumpkin. And no one is as happy as they seem on Instagram. Even friends of mine. I’ll say, 'Wow, that looked amazing!’ and they’ll be like, 'Nah, it wasn’t.’ I tell them, 'You need to stop putting that stuff up because it looks perfect.’ But then Instagram would be awful if it was reality, wouldn’t it?"
Earlier this year, Chung told a journalist that her image had swallowed her up, and she felt like she was having to live up to some kooky caricature of herself. “I don’t feel like that any more,” she says now, "I feel I’d grown up, but the rest hadn’t caught up.”
Kate Finnigan / Stella Magazine / The Interview People
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