Mod­ern muse

Ahead of a trip to Aus­tralia, Alexa Chung talks to Stel­lar about grow­ing up, pub­lic break-ups and re­claim­ing the “It girl” la­bel

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

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.

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