Ahead of a trip to Australia, Alexa Chung talks to Stellar about growing up, public break-ups and reclaiming the “It girl” label
he’s modelled for Vivienne Westwood, appeared as herself in an episode of Gossip Girl and been branded an “It girl” by every magazine under the sun since Karl Lagerfeld unofficially gave her the title nearly a decade ago. It might seem like Alexa Chung has achieved plenty, but that doesn’t stop the self-doubt from creeping in. “I have absolute prang-outs where I’m worried about the future,” Chung tells Stellar on the phone from her home in London. “I had one last night between midnight and 4am. My house is like a pizza oven and I have crazy jet lag, and I went to bed exhausted but woke up and was texting my friend in New York being like, ‘Oh my god, what’s going to happen to me?’” If her background is anything to go by, she has nothing to worry about. Thrown into the spotlight as a teenager, Chung has remained in its glow ever since. She grew up in the countryside outside London, and burst onto the modelling scene after being scouted as a leggy, chestnut-haired 15-yearold. “I was presumably cast as the girl next door,” she says. “But I was
very disappointed because I was like, ‘You’re telling me who I am before I know who I am.’ But I was booked a lot, I think hopefully because cause I was quite easy to work with and pretty much up for doing whatever hatever they wanted – I was amenable.” nable.”
Chung did it all – modelling delling for teen magazines, appearing earing in video clips for Westlife ife and Delta Goodrem, and starring ring in commercials. In 2006, Chung made the transition n into television presenting, g, and her profile exploded. Stella Mccartney, DKNY, Lacoste ste and Longchamp came calling, ing, Mulberry named a handbag after r her, and Elle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar aar lined up to have her grace their pages. Chung became a bona-fide style tyle sensation for her quirky, rky, vintage-inspired looks.
She frequented bestdressed lists and the society pages of newspapers alongside socialite friends, such as rock-star offspring Pixie Geldof, supermodel sisters Poppy and Cara Delevingne and singer Harry Styles. Meanwhile, her relationships with Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and actor Alexander Skarsgård became the subject of public speculation – as did their eventual breakdowns.
Being part of the gossip machine is something Chung can have a laugh at, to a point. “I don’t think I’m good tabloid fodder. By this point, we’ve established I’m not going to, like, start doing crack, you know what I mean? But the only thing that’s a bummer is that it does affect your dating choices, because this lifestyle is quite ‘other’,” she says. “It takes a lot of compassion and understanding for a partner to empathise with your situation. So I’ve found it’s easier to date people who are in a similar boat. But the downside is, if I’ve happened to date someone that has also got attention around them, and a 2013 book, It, under her belt). “I don’t know if my skill set is broad or maybe my fear is something I embrace,” she says. “I’m intrigued to see what I can get away with.” It seems natural then that in 2017 Chung launched her eponymous fashion label, a brand now coveted by a new generation of Hollywood stars, including Dakota Johnson and Chloë Grace Moretz. “I wouldn’t say [being the boss] is my natural state,” Chung laughs. “I delegate the more adult responsibilities to people who are better at being a bit more sensible. So actually, I feel like the work experience person and everyone else is serious and grown up.”
Now, ahead of her trip to Australia this week to celebrate her second collaboration with Italian sneaker brand Superga, Chung reflects on her morethan-a-decade-long relationship with the iconic shoes. “I started modelling for them,” Chung explains. “Then it was an organic progression from model to art director to creative director, so that’s a really nice thing. I honestly can’t remember when I started wearing them. They’re emblazoned in my psyche because my mum was a fan. So, to me, that’s what trainers always looked like.”
Despite her long list of accolades, Chung still hasn’t been able to shake the It girl label – but, she’s finally made peace with it. “When I was younger, I was really objecting to being objectified for so many years – it felt infantile, or patronising. I was like, ‘Wait, I’ve broken out of modelling, got into television, writing, broadcast journalism, only to be told people want me as an object.’ I was like, ‘No, hang on just a f*cking minute. You’re writing my narrative and I’ve got more to say than that.’ But now I’ve managed to take control of it and I think of it as a compliment because it implies a certain energy – not being able to be boxed in or something. So now I’m like, ‘Can you still call me an It girl? Have I still got it?’” Superga x ALEXACHUNG will be available at David Jones from Tuesday.